Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is kicking off 2014 with a bang, hurling some harsh words at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over his leadership.
In a piece penned for Politico Magazine on Wednesday, Alexander lamented the state of the legislative body. Entitled "This Is the End of the Senate. It's Harry Reid's Fault.," the GOP incumbent charged that the "...capacity to forge consensus, to protect minority views from popular passions and to counter presidential excesses..." has been destroyed.
"This diminishing of the Senate is tragic for a country with large problems to solve and whose system of checks and balances and self-government are the envy of the world," Alexander concluded.
Alexander's remarks come less than two months after Senate Democrats pushed through the "nuclear option," allowing a simple majority of senators present and voting to approve presidential nominees, outside of Supreme Court justices. The process was previously subject to the filibuster system, where a 60-vote hurdle had to be cleared just to reach a simple-majority situation.
In the Politico piece, Alexander admitted that "there is blame to go around," but that Republicans' delays of nominations were "hardly a crisis."
Non-judicial presidential nominees are rarely denied their seats by filibuster (before the November rules change, there were two cases for Barack Obama, three for George W. Bush, two for Bill Clinton and none before that). According to the Congressional Research Service, President Obama’s second-term cabinet nominees have been confirmed as speedily as those of Presidents Bush and Clinton.
“The American people believe the Senate is broken, and I believe the American people are right,” Reid said. “It’s time to get the Senate working again.”