There are times when it pays to heed a warning. The Senate is no exception.
For the past two years, Harry Reid has pleaded with the Republicans in the Senate not to abuse the filibuster rule, forcing 60 votes to get approval of presidential nominations to bench seats and as federal department heads. Over and over again, the Majority leader warned that abuse of the filibuster would lead to the 'nuclear option.'
The obstinate party of 'no' called the Democrats perceived bluff and they got themselves 'bitch slapped" as a result.
They brought it on themselves. You would hope they've learned lesson. We'll see.
The latest huffing and puffing, posturing from the GOP Senators, is the Blue Slip rule. If you haven't heard of it, here's how it's explained on Wikipedia:
Both senators from a nominee's state are sent a blue slip in which they may submit a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a nominee. They may also choose not to return a blue slip. The Senate Judiciary Committee takes blue slips into consideration when deciding whether or not to recommend that the Senate confirm a nominee.
So just like the Hastert Rule in the House, it's generally followed BUT NOT BINDING. It's nothing more than a pocket rule, not a law. It's simply a method of doing business.
Once again the Republican senators, led by their leader, Mitch McConnell, are looking for ways of gumming up the government rather than to make it work smoothly -- as a political talking point to advance their public standing. They're threatening to use the Blue Slip procedure to hold up the President's nominations to the court. And once again, Harry Reid is warning them that the Blue Slip procedure will be adhered to only so long as it's not abused. That is called a warning.
Time will tell. The Blue Slips will be distributed to the appropriate senators as nominations are announced. If the GOP-ers act reasonably, then everything will stay the same. But if they capriciously abuse this "courtesy," the next step is they get bitch slapped again. The gentleman's agreement won't be enforced. Any change to the Blue Slip procedure would be up to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. He's not going to be tolerant very long.
Hopefully the Senate Republicans and their obstructionism will subside. If they want to be taken seriously they'll remember another old adage, "Once bitten, twice shy."