President Barack Obama would like to see senators work something out at tonight’s extraordinary meeting in the Old Senate Chamber to streamline the confirmations of his nominees, but he will ultimately defer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's effort to deploy the "nuclear option" if they don't.
“We take that as a constructive step towards streamlining the confirmation process and breaking the Republican gridlock holding up executive branch appointments,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said of the Monday evening meeting.
But Carney deferred to Reid on the Nevada Democrat’s threat to deploy the “nuclear option” to end filibusters on executive nominations if there isn’t a deal.
“He supports Harry Reid, and he is appreciative of the support that Harry Reid has given to the president and his nominees,” Carney said.
When asked about the potential for even more gridlock in retaliation from the GOP, Carney smirked.
“It boggles the mind how they would achieve that,” he said. “But the fact is, the Senate needs to confirm this president's nominees in a timely and efficient manner, to consider and confirm, and that is true and will be true for the next president and the next president after that. This has become ridiculous.”
But he said it was “so important to work it out” so that the nation’s business gets done.
In particular, Carney highlighted the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“The only reason why Republicans have stalled his nomination for two years is because they don't like the agency that he heads up,” he said.
Indeed, Republicans have stalled Cordray's confirmation because they are seeking changes in the law that created the agency and his position.