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."