The Note: Will Harry Reid Nuke The Senate?

Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • DUCK AND COVER: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set up a potentially "nuclear" showdown with Republicans over President Obama's executive nominees for next week, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Reid filed cloture Thursday on seven executive nominees, including Richard Cordray as the director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor, and Regina McCarthy as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up votes on the nominees for Tuesday. In a news conference after a Democratic caucus meeting, Reid said he is prepared to use the "nuclear option" should Republicans not agree to approve the seven nominees. Current rules require 67 votes to change Senate rules, but the Nevada senator's move would allow for the change in Senate filibuster procedure with a simple majority of 51 votes.
  • GOP COUNTERMEASURES: "[W]hat he's really saying here is, he doesn't want any debate at all in connection with presidential appointments. Just sit down, shut up, and rubber stamp everything, everyone the president sends up here," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. "This is about trying to come up with excuses to break our commitments. What this is about is manufacturing a pretext for a power grab," McConnell said. McConnell warned that invoking the "nuclear option" over the filibuster would tarnish Reid's legacy as Senate majority leader. "If we don't pull back from the brink here, my friend, the majority leader, is going to be remembered as the worst leader of the Senate ever," McConnell said.
  • WHAT'S NEXT? Sen. Reid, D-Nev., said yesterday he would go to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday and "do what I need to do so this doesn't happen anymore," referring to the potential blocking of nominees. But before the chamber considers the nominees, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports that all 100 senators will meet Monday evening in the Old Senate Chamber for a rare special closed door caucus meeting to discuss the filibuster rules.
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': As the House slows down movement on comprehensive immigration reform, House Republicans ramp up efforts to delay Obamacare while Senate Democrats threaten to go nuclear over the filibuster. Sunday on "This Week," key House members and our powerhouse roundtable debate all the week's politics, with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.; Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.; The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot; Politico's Maggie Haberman; The New York Times' Mark Leibovich, author of the new book "This Town"; and television and radio host Tavis Smiley. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Will the fever break? Showdowns in both the House and the Senate could determine the course of events for the next 18 months - and possibly longer. The House's go-its-own-way approach to immigration reform seems more likely to result in no bill at all, unless it winds up marking a major breakthrough that offers a template for things to move again. Similarly, the Senate clash over filibusters of presidential nominations could be the end of the Senate as we know it - in two very different possible directions. It's often being said that it's going to take something big to break Washington of its extended legislating funk. We just might be seeing those somethings, hard as it is to see through the flying accusations and recriminations.

ABC's TOM SHINE: We all know food stamps - that program to make sure the poor, including military families have something to eat - isn't in the House passed farm bill. But do you know what is? On page 588 of the bill is a provision to kill the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the most comprehensive food safety program ever, a bi-partisan measure supported by growers, producers and grocery stores, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. The Republican who stuck it in the bill (Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich.), doesn't use the word kill of course. Instead more mundane words are used like "economic impact," "business concerns," along with eight other conditions that have to be satisfied before the bill can be implemented.


MAKING 'HOMELAND': CREATORS OF HIT TV SHOW ON THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO REALITY IN FICTIONAL STORYLINE. The creators of the hit Showtime series "Homeland" say they feel a responsibility to deal fairly with the controversial real-world issues that are weaved into the show's fictionalized storyline. "We do absolutely search our consciences as a group, as a group of writers," co-creator Howard Gordon told On The Radar's MARTHA RADDATZ. "Ultimately we have to gut check ourselves and sort of say…'Are we being incendiary for the sake of being incendiary? Are we being provocateurs in a random kind of way?" Gordon said. The television series follows the story of bi-polar CIA Agent Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, as she tracks a Marine Sergeant who she suspects turned to terrorist ideology after being held captive by a terrorist group for many years. For more of the interview with the creators of Homeland, including some hints about what's in store for the third season that starts this fall, check out this episode of On the Radar.


COMING NEXT WEEK: HOUSE TO VOTE ON DELAYING INDIVIDUAL MANDATE. House Speaker John Boehner yesterday announced that the House will take votes next week on a one-year delay to both the employer mandate and the individual mandate in the president's signature health care law, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Boehner's vow was instigated by the Obama administration's decision last week to postpone implementation of the mandate for businesses. Thursday, the speaker ticked off examples of the types of people who would have to overcome the burden of the mandate - young professionals with student loans, single parents and families - and contrasted their struggle with financial companies, government contractors and big banks who stand to benefit from the administration's decision to delay the mandate for employers. "It's unfair and indefensible," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Is it fair for the president to give American businesses an exemption from the health law's mandates without giving the same break to individuals and families across the country? Hell, no, it isn't!" The House is taking the second vote on the employer mandate not only because some lawmakers question whether the administration has the unilateral authority to delay the regulation, but also to put Democrats on the record "for their hypocrisy" over support for the delay for businesses, according to a senior Republican leadership aide.

RAND PAUL DEFENDS 'EMBARRASSED' AIDE WITH NEO-CONFEDERATE PAST. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., defended a Senate aide who once espoused pro-secession and neo-Confederate views, calling him "incredibly talented" during an interview with the Huffington Post, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The Washington Free Beacon Tuesday reported that Jack Hunter, who serves as social media director for Paul, once worked as a radio shock jock for two different stations in Charleston, S.C., advocating for secession and the Confederacy. Hunter, who helped write Paul's book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," called himself the "Southern Avenger" and wore a Confederate flag mask at public appearances. "People are calling him a white supremacist," Paul said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately. If I thought he would treat anybody on the color of their skin different that others, I'd fire him immediately. "All I can say is, we have a zero tolerance policy for anybody who displays discriminatory behavior or belief in discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, anything like that," Paul, 50, said. "We won't tolerate any of that, and I've seen no evidence of that." As a radio shock jock, Hunter once voiced his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and his opposition to the immigration of Spanish speakers to the United States. In a statement posted to his website Tuesday, Hunter, 39, said he now opposes many of the views he shared as a radio host.

HOUSE PASSES FARM BILL, SANS FOOD STAMPS. Much to the chagrin of Democrats, the House of Representatives voted down partisan lines to approve a farm bill yesterday, which was separated from a comprehensive version of legislation that initially included hundreds of billions of dollars for food stamps. In a vote that was filled with drama, the bill narrowly passed 216-208, with zero Democrats supporting passage. Twelve Republicans also opposed the bill, according to ABC's JOHN PARKINSON. House Speaker John Boehner said the vote was "a positive first step forward in providing some much-needed reforms to our farm programs." "Our farm and food stamp programs need reform," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement after the vote. "The status quo is unacceptable, which is why I voted against most of the farm bills of the past two decades and supported this one." The bill's passage is a relief for Republican leaders, who were stunned when a vote on the combined legislation failed June 20, 195-234. Separating the two issues, however, won over the support of 48 of 62 Republicans who first opposed the package last month.

WAR OF WORDS: SARAH PALIN VS. MARK BEGICH. A war of words erupted yesterday between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the senator she might take on next year: Democrat Mark Begich, ABC's JOAN GREVE notes. The conflict started earlier this week when Palin told Fox News' Sean Hannity that she has "considered" a U.S. Senate bid because, "Senator Mark Begich has got to be replaced. He has not done what he had promised to do for the people of Alaska, which is to represent what it is the nation needs in terms of energy development, because he's on the wrong side of the aisle." Begich fired back at Palin during a Politico interview Wednesday. "A Republican primary in Alaska? She may not survive," Begich said. "I take every candidate seriously, that is, if she's still a resident, but you know she quit on Alaska when she was governor." And yesterday Palin responded via Facebook. She wrote a scathing post this morning about Begich that began, "Really, Mark? Really?" It continued, "Mark, after looking at your voting record I can see why you are looking for a distraction. You have voted FOR Obamacare, FOR massive tax increases, FOR carbon taxes which could cost Alaskans 21,000 jobs, AGAINST pro-life legislation, and there's so much more."


DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS GROUP RAKES IN $15 MILLION. The Democratic Governors Association announced today that it raised $15 million in the first six months of 2013. According to the DGA, that figure represents "a record haul for the organization in an off-year and a 30 percent increase from the same period in 2009." By comparison, the DGA says in the first six months of 2009, it raised $11.6 million. "In 2009 and 2010, Republican candidates for governor promised to focus on job creation, but have since been distracted by radical assaults on women's health, disenfranchising voters, attacking workers, and implementing economic schemes that reward the wealthiest and well-connected at the expense of middle class families," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chairman of the DGA, said in a statement. "A few short years later, polls reflect that voters in states with Republican governors have buyer's remorse and today's filing demonstrates that Democrats across the country are more energized than ever." Virginia and New Jersey are holding gubernatorial elections in 2013 and 36 other states will do so in 2014.


@runningstartDC: Check out the story about our Summit from The Hill today!

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