Sen. Mike Johanns claims Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has effectively silenced the minority by changing Senate rules.
Democrats have voted to prohibit filibusters against judicial and executive branch nominees.
“This violates a couple of hundred years-plus of constitutional tradition,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call. “Because of his actions, from now on, the Senate can approve presidential nominations no matter how controversial they may be without any input whatsoever from the minority party.”
The Senate voted 52-48 to change the rules and allow judicial and executive branch nominees to be approved by a simple majority vote. Previously, the threshold had been 60, which forced Democrats to seek Republican votes to end any filibusters against nominees so a vote could be taken.
Republicans insisted that the filibuster upheld their right to be heard, even though in the majority.
Democrats claimed Republicans over-used the tactic, preventing even the most qualified nominees from receiving a straight, up and down vote.
Johanns, a Republican, accuses Senate Majority Leader Reid, a Democrat, of running roughshod over Republicans and tradition.
“Maybe Sen. Reid feels like he scored a political victory today when he said to the minority, people like me who represent a state filled with caring people who are trying to do the right thing, maybe he feels like that minority doesn’t need to be heard anymore and now he’s got his way to do his confirmations by majority vote,” Johanns states.
The rule change does not affect Supreme Court nominees.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns reacts to move by Democrats to use the “nuclear option.” [8 minutes]