Harry Reid could go nuclear this week

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated by Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama's nominees, could invoke the so-called "nuclear option" this week — a controversial move that would change Senate rules over GOP objections to prevent filibusters of presidential nominations, according to one senior Democratic aide and another Democratic source.

Democrats are particularly upset by recent GOP filibusters of three DC Circuit court nominees.

Typically 67 votes are required to change Senate rules, but under the nuclear option Democrats — who control the chamber — would change those rules with a simple majority vote. It would mean that going forward presidential nominations for judges and executive branch officials could also be approved on a simple majority vote, as opposed to the 60 votes required to get around filibusters. The change would not apply to Supreme Court nominees.

Both sources said Reid could make the controversial rules change this week if he has enough votes among Democrats. But it appears Reid does not yet have those votes. While Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran California Democrat, said Tuesday she had changed her mind and now supports the nuclear option, other longtime Democrats, including Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, have resisted taking the extraordinary step, and some moderate Democrats have not signed on to the plan.

The Democratic source said that if Reid can't get enough backing among Democrats this week, he would work to build support for the rules change during the Thanksgiving break and try again in early December.

The Democrats currently have a 55-45 majority in the Senate.

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