Meet the Press   |  July 14, 2013

McConnell responds to Reid's filibuster assertion

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell visits Meet the Press to offer his viewpoint on Harry Reid's remarks on the Senate's filibuster policy.

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

>>> republican in the senate , mitch mcconnell , of kentucky. senator, welcome back to you. having a difficult time hearing you. we'll try to establish that. let me get my first question in. your reaction to hearing your colleague say, look, this is different. changes the rules here is not like it's been in the past with regard to judicial nominations. it is appropriate for the majority to be able to get the work done at once.

>> yeah. the reason we call it the the nuclear option , david, is because it's breaking the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the senate , which the majority leader, as you pointed out, in his book, indicated was something we should never do. look, rather than getting down in the weeds on the rules, what is the problem here? the president has had 1,540 of his nominations confirmed, only 4 defeated. he's not lost a single member of the cabinet. he's getting them faster than president bush was at the same time in his second term. the majority leader needs to bring these nominees up. most of them are going to be confirmed. it really kind of comes down to three appointments that the federal courts have told us were unconstitutionally recess appointed. two members of the nlrb and the cfpb. we need to talk about that. and we're going to talk about it at a rather unusual joint session in the old senate chamber on monday of all senators. we need to start talking to each other instead of at each other, and see if we can't resolve this in the same way that we did ten years ago when republicans had genuine provocation. we charles hadlock five of president bush 's circuit court nominees defeated by filibuster. here, nobody's been defeated. they've all been confirmed. and that's why we're wondering why the majority leader is thinking about the nuclear trigger when all the president's nominees are being confirmed.

>> but just as there are past statements that senator reid made that speak to sort of the folly of washington in a lot of people's minds, here you are back in march of 2005 on cnbc advocating for the thing that he's talking about now. this is what you said.

>> what they did last congress was change 200 years of history during which we had never killed executive branch nominations by use of the filibuster. they introduced that. it's a terrible precedent. the senate can, with 51 votes, not 60, reverse that precedent. and i believe that it's time to do that, and i believe that we will go forward with that at a time of the majority leader's calling.

>> so you were for it then, you think it's outrageous now.

>> look, i'm glad we didn't do it. the provocation was that five circuit court nominations had been defeated with a filibuster for the first time in american history . the democrats invented that. we went to the brink, and we pulled back, because cooler heads prevailed, and we knew it would be a mistake for the long-term future of the senate and the country. that's what i hope is going to happen here, david. we have an opportunity to pull back from the brink in this joint meeting that we're going to have of all senators in the old senate chamber monday night. i hope we'll come to our senses and not change the core of the senate . we have never changed the rules of the senate by breaking the rules of the senate in order to diminish the voices of individual senators. we've never done that. we sure shouldn't start it now, particularly since every one of the president's nominees that would be subject to this rule change have been confirmed.

>> do you really believe that your old friend and colleague harry reid is the worst senate leader ever if he goes forward with this?

>> no. he won't be if he pulls back from the brink as we did ten years ago. we had much more serious case then than he has now. he's a reasonable man. he's a good majority leader. and we're going to have a chance to air all of this out in a joint conference with all of our members monday, and i'm hoping we won't make this big mistake .

>> one more on this. secretary napolitano of homeland security is now stepping down. do you now see a nomination fight over key security post depending on who the president puts forward, particularly with the immigration debate , a key component of what the secretary of homeland security does?

>> well, guys in your line of work tend to use the word "fight" when we're having a debate. some of the president's nominees have been quite controversial. i mean, that's what we do in the senate . we have big debates over big issues. but they've all been confirmed. we'll take a look at whoever the new secretary of homeland security is. i can't guarantee you there won't be a spirited debate. look, we have over 300 million people in this country. we don't always agree on everything. and they elect us to come to washington, and we have some big disagreements and big debates. but sooner or later , when it comes to to nominations, as i've indicated, the president hasn't lost anybody. he hasn't lost anybody. are they saying they don't want us to even debate these nomination? and crs says they're getting them more rapidly than president bush got his. that's why we're wondering why this threat to blow the senate up when the president's getting his nominees.