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Washington, DC 15 July, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader:

"Now my friend, the Republican leader and others come to the floor and say, 'yeah, but everything is going great. We approved this person 97 to nothing, this person 98 to nothing, another person 100 to nothing,' but that's the whole point, there's nothing wrong with these people, there's nothing wrong with their qualifications. They simply want to stall what goes on."

2. SOUNDBITE: Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader:

"My friend, Senator McConnell, and this is not McConnell versus Reid. My caucus is concerned about where this country is head. Mitch has said, I'm not making this up, he is the 'proud guardian of gridlock.' Those are his words. So, I took action last week, to force Republicans to either allow these people to go through, that is, stop the filibuster, or, we're going to have to change the rule. There isn't, as I've indicated, a single objection, to the qualifications for anyone of these people. We need to move forward. We need to stop blocking this president and future presidents from having the qualified team that he thinks he needs. This is in the constitution. This isn't about Democrats or Republicans, its about making Washington work regardless of who's in the White House."


A fight over cherished Senate rules blamed for that balky chamber's notorious habit of grinding to a halt on contentious issues dominated Capitol Hill politics Monday, as Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid pressed for changes that could help President Barack Obama win confirmation for some of his executive nominees.

Reid, D-Nev., is pushing to let nominees win approval with a simple majority of senators' backing instead of the 60-vote threshold that has stalled many nominations.

All 100 senators have been invited to a closed-to-the-public meeting Monday evening to seek a compromise on how to approach those nominated to serve in senior positions in Obama's administration.

Reid said the proposal applies only to those tapped to serve in the administration, not for lifetime posts as judges.

Reid addressed the issue during a speech at an advocacy organization linked to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the White House.

Critics of Reid's proposal, including the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, called Reid's move one that would "change the core of the Senate."

He said it would fundamentally deny senators their prerogative to query potential officials.

Reid and McConnell, along with their rank-and-file members, have traded barbs over just what the proposed changes would mean, both for Obama's current slate of nominees awaiting confirmation and for future senators who can delay or derail agendas.