Meet the Press   |  July 14, 2013

Reid discusses congressional stalemate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talks about Congress' dismal approval rating with the American people and the stalemates that plague the legislative branch.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> what's happening in the senate and this war of words between you and the minority leader. there's a lot of minutia about the rules that people may not follow. it basically boils down to whether the minority party can and should be able to stop the majority party from getting something done. and as we talk about -- what's striking to me, leader mcconnell was on this program nearly two years ago. this is what he said about the concept of divided government then.

>> you know, divided government , that is when neither party controls the entire government, is the perfect time to do big stuff.

>> the perfect time to do big stuff. so what's happened? why hasn't it worked the way you thought it would?

>> mitch is going to be on a little later, and i'm -- he's going to defend the status quo. is there anyone out there in the world, real world , that believes that what's going on in the congress of the united states is good? our approval rating is lower than north korea 's. it is really, really difficult. and, david, let's talk about what is happening. we're not doing anything that affects lifetime appointments. we're doing nothing that affects legislation. here's what we're doing. a president, whether it's president obama , the new president clinton , or the new bush, whoever is president should be able to have the people on their team that they want. now, the sky is falling. i have been leader for about the same time lyndon johnson was. during the time he was leader, one filibuster. me, 420. during the time that president obama has been president, he's had 16 filibusters against his nominations. during the entire history of this country, the country, there's only been 20. and changing the rules is like the sky is falling. we've done -- during the last 36, we've done 18 times, just a year ago.

>> but here's --

>> no, listen. i want everyone to hear this. the changes we're making are very, very minimal. what we're doing is saying, look american people , shouldn't president obama have somebody working for him that he wants? the 15 people that we found cloture on that are pending, they've been waiting an average of nine months, nine months. is that good? do we want to continue that? so we're going to make a simple change. what we're going to do is say in the future, just like the constitution outlines, the constitution's pretty specific, if you want a super majority vote, look at what a veto is or a treaty, but if you want to look at the nomination, you know what the founding fathers said, simple majority . that's what we need.

>> you wrote in your own book in 2008 with regard to the potential rule change over judicial nominees, which is not at play here, in fwooif, you wloet, "in a fit of partisan fury they were trying to blow up the senate. senate rules can only be changed by a two-thirds vote in the senate or 67 senators. the republicans were going to do it illegally with a simple majority of 51." you're saying is sky is not falling when republicans did it, you said it was illegal to do what you want to do.

>> but you've answered my question. we're not touching judges. that's what that was talking about. this is not judges. this is not legislation. this is allowing the people of america to have a president who can have his team, to have his team in place. this is nothing like went on before. remember, remember what's going on. this president has had 16 executive nominations filibustered. we have now 15 pending waiting an average of -- waiting an average of -- i lost my number there for a second -- but they've been waiting an average of nine months. nine months. the three that you talk about all the time, this is wild-eyed liberal they don't like, you know who he worked for? bourque. he was a clerk for judge bourque. a clerk for justice kennedy . they have nothing against the qualifications. they don't like the jobs these people have. qualifications, consumer protected against wall street , that's what he is. we have secretary of labor. they don't like that -- created during the depression.they don't like that because this man, perez, who's worked so hard, he was a garbage man during the time he was going through school. perez, you see, wantings to be secretary of labor. we'd been waiting for months and months. finally, two members of the national labor relations board , what does this do? it protects american workers from the abuse of employers. they've been waiting two years. how do you like that one? and we're making big changes? all we're doing is doing what the constitution says. let these -- appoint these people by the president, let us approve them with simple