Donald Lambro

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, sounding like a whining kid on a playground who can't get his way, said "the Senate is broken and needs to be fixed."

By "fixed," Reid really meant rigged in favor of his party.

The Nevada Democrat, whose state (with 9.5 percent unemployment) represents the epitome President Obama's failed economic policies, proposed changing the rules of the game this week so he and his cohorts will be able to run roughshod over the democratic rights of the minority whenever they wanted.

Reid's threatened rules change is known as the "nuclear option," that Republican leaders said was the equivalent of telling their party to "sit down and shut up."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, always protective of his party's rights under the chamber's long-held parliamentary rules, said that if Reid ever got his way, it would be "a sad, sad day for the United States. And if we don't pull back from the brink here, my friend, the majority leader, is going to be remembered as the worst leader in the Senate ever."

Well, it was, shall we say, a testy exchange between the two leaders over an issue that pops up every now and then in the Senate, only to pull back from the brink in the end. And that's what happened Tuesday.

Both sides were in negotiations, led by Arizona John McCain, to find a way around the impasse, after a closed door meeting of nearly all 100 senators in the Old Senate Chamber used in the 1800s.

At issue were seven of Obama's nominees whose nominations were either being held up by GOP senators or constitutionally challenged because they were recess appointments. Among them:

-- Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal bureaucracy that Republicans want to change or abolish. An appeals court ruled in January that Obama's appointments of Cordray and two members at the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional because the Senate was technically not in recess. The Supreme Court will review the cases this fall.

-- Fred Hochberg, picked to head the Export-Import Bank, was being blocked by GOP senators who oppose his nomination because they object to the agency that funnels huge subsidies to some of the richest Fortune 500 corporations in the nation.

-- Gina McCarthy, who was nominated in March to head the Environmental Protection Agency, was being blocked by some Republicans who oppose many of EPA's policies and her positions on them.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.