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NH Sen. Shaheen doesn't rule out 'nuclear option'

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 16, 2013 at 6:46 pm •  Published: July 16, 2013
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BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate has averted the worst-case scenario in Washington's filibuster debate — at least for now — but New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is not ruling out the so-called "nuclear option" to prevent "further obstruction" from Republicans going forward.

"I hope the compromise we struck today prevents further obstruction on executive branch nominations in the future," Shaheen, who faces her first re-election test next year, said on Tuesday. "But if it doesn't, I would consider rules reform."

"Rules reform" is a Washington euphemism for the so-called "nuclear option," a Senate rule change that would prevent the minority party from using filibusters to block presidential appointees. While filibusters have been allowed for decades, Republicans have used them more often against Democratic President Barack Obama than any other president in history.

Shaheen's comments came shortly after Senate leaders announced a compromise.

"I've always believed that all presidents, regardless of party, should be allowed to fill their own cabinets," she said. "I hope today's agreement helps lay the foundation for greater bipartisan cooperation on the many important issues facing the country."

New Hampshire's other senator, Republican Kelly Ayotte, said the compromise "preserves the integrity of the U.S. Senate and the voice of the minority on executive branch nominations."

It's unclear what role, if any, Shaheen played leading up to the agreement. She was one of the only senators on Monday to miss a vote and subsequent meeting of the full Senate about the filibuster debate.

Spokesman Shripal Shah said that Shaheen had "a scheduling conflict" and refused to elaborate.

New Hampshire Republicans called on Shaheen to explain the absence.

"New Hampshire deserves to be represented by both of its U.S. senators at critical meetings like this," state GOP chair Jennifer Horn said Tuesday. "And Jeanne Shaheen must tell her constituents why she was unable to do her job last night."