U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a news release that his threats to block President Barack Obama's nominations -- now short-lived under a new Senate rule change -- yielded "the first Senate interview of a State Department Benghazi survivor yesterday, 14 months after the attack" on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Graham has been threatening to block Obama's nominees to force the White House to call on more Benghazi witnesses to testify. But his strategy took a hit Thursday, when the U.S. Senate's Democratic majority evoked the "nuclear option" and voted to make it easier to end filibusters blocking Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees.
To end debate on federal judge and executive office nominees, the Senate now only needs a majority, not 60 votes.
The change, Democrats said, would not apply to Supreme Court nominees.
But Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said when Republicans control the Senate, they'll change the rules for SCOTUS, too, Talking Points Memo reported.
"The nuclear analogy is apt," said Jordan Ragusa, a College of Charleston political science professor, who added that Democrats could lose their majority in 2014. "Because now we've set off a nuclear arms race" where the majority party in the Senate will push an "increasing relaxing of filibuster requirements" until the Senate runs like the House.
"Let’s call it what it was -- a raw power grab by Senate Democrats and President Obama. Previous efforts to resist the temptation of turning the Senate into the House of Representatives were lost today and the ‘advise and consent’ clause for executive and judicial branch nominations was washed away. But there is much more here than meets the eye."
• "After today, I fully expect President Obama to stack the D.C. Circuit Court with liberal, rubber-stamp judges. This court has primary jurisdiction over lawsuits that challenge Obamacare regulations. It is no accident the rules were changed to stack this court. President Obama is committed to protecting Obamacare, his signature achievement, regardless of the damage done to millions of Americans. He is even willing to throw the judiciary into chaos if necessary. Any American who wants to bring a legal challenge to the thousands of Obamacare rules and regulations lost big today."
• "The hold I placed on many Obama nominees until Congress was able to speak with the Benghazi survivors has been greatly eroded. I was very pleased my hold resulted in the first Senate interview of a State Department Benghazi survivor yesterday, 14 months after the attack. I, along with several Senate colleagues, spoke at length to this individual who provided new and compelling information about the attacks on our compounds in Benghazi. Unfortunately, Americans who want to get to the truth about what happened in Benghazi were hurt by today’s vote. Without the ability to delay nominations, presidential administrations are likely to be even more successful in their stonewalling efforts."
• "Finally, one of the great concerns about this rule change is without the requirement to work with the minority party to select judges, the judiciary will become dominated by ideologues. One of the biggest winners of this move is liberal groups who will be pushing radical, liberal judges to serve on the federal bench."