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Will Senate Democrats Deploy The 'Nuclear Option?'

The debate has begun on the floor of the Senate over whether Majority Leader Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats can exercise the so-called nuclear option. That's the catchy name for a change in the Senate's rules that would make it much harder for Republicans to filibuster many of President Obama's nominees -- most notably those he chooses for seats on federal courts.

Need some background on it? Check this It's All Politics post by NPR's David Welna. Basically, Democrats are proposing that judicial nominations (except those for the Supreme Court) could no longer be blocked if 40 or more senators vote to hold up action. Instead, the rules would be changed to require a majority vote before action could be blocked.

Already this morning, Reid has made the case for changing the rules by accusing Republicans of turning "advise and consent" into "deny and obstruct" as they block Obama's nominees.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has responded by saying that Democrats promised they would not try to change the rules involving judicial nominations. Saying that Democrats are trying to wage a "fake fight over judges" to take attention away from problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, McConnell said the other party misled Republicans. Democrats might just as well have said "if you like the rules of the Senate, you can keep them," McConnell quipped -- a not-so-subtle reminder of President Obama's pledge to Americans that if they liked their health care plans, they could keep them.

C-SPAN is streaming the action here.

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