Filibuster rule changed and defense bill status


Senate Majority  leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gets new rules on filibuster passed.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gets new rules on filibuster passed.

Here are the headlines that are making news and trending on social media this morning out of Washington, D.C. We will begin with the Senate where yesterday they  invoked the so-called “nuclear option” and moved to eliminate the

 on all presidential nominations except those for the Supreme Court.

This means the president’s judicial and executive branch nominees no longer need to clear a 60-vote threshold to move forward to up-or-down confirmation votes.

One consequence of the historic rules change is that it killed any spirit of bipartisan compromise. And this does not bode well for the National Defense Authorization Act, which has been stalled all week as Senate leaders haggled over how to proceed with amendments.

The defense bill is dead…well for a while anyway.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put forward a motion to end debate on the bill, but it failed, 51-44, nine votes short of the 60 needed to advance the bill.

— BARELY ENOUGH TIME LEFT: Why is Reid so intent on getting the defense bill out of the Senate? Because he’s looking at the calendar and sees there’s just a tiny window in December when the House and Senate are not in recess and can meet in conference to hash out their differences on the bill, likely just the week of Dec. 9.

— BUT LEVIN REMAINS UNDETERRED: “Given the importance of this bill to our troops, their families and our national security, I’m nowhere close to giving up on completing the defense authorization bill, even though we will only have days, not weeks, to complete it,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said in a statement.

– AMENDMENTS LEFT HANGING: A number of controversial amendments are still awaiting votes, including ones addressing sexual assault in the military and a new round of sanctions against Iran. So, it’s now possible some may even be offered as stand-alone bills, if the defense bill can’t get off the ground in the Senate. The House has already passed its version.

— HASC TO SENATE: PLEASE GET IT DONE: “We urge the Senate to resume NDAA consideration as soon as they return from their Thanksgiving recess,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and ranking Democrat Adam Smith said in a statement yesterday. “Time is running short to reach an agreement this year, but it has not yet run out.”

HAGEL SAYS U.S. NEEDS AFGHANISTAN TO SIGN THE AGREEMENT THIS YEAR: Yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the assembly of elders in Kabul the deal struck with the U.S. might not get signed until the spring. Clearly, the U.S. would like to see it finalized much sooner.

On his way to a defense conference in Halifax, Canada, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters, “We believe by the end of this year we should have that agreement signed, we need to have that agreement signed by the end of the year.”

Until then, the U.S. can’t make any commitments on troop levels post-2014, which really screws up planning, he said.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.