- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sen. Ted Cruz and former Sen. Harry Reid didn’t see eye to eye on many things, but the Texas Republican says he’s found himself toasting his former political nemesis in recent weeks for having triggered the nuclear option.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Cruz said by making it easier to confirm nominees, Mr. Reid has paved the path for President Trump to not only install the most conservative Cabinet in decades, but has left an opening for a massive change in the federal judiciary.

“I would like to see an army of young, principled constitutionalists on the bench, a generation of new leadership, a generation of 30-something and 40-something Scalias and Thomases,” Mr. Cruz told reporters, referring to the late Justice Antonin Scalia and current Justice Clarence Thomas, who have led the conservative wing of the Supreme Court for decades.

Mr. Cruz said Mr. Reid’s move to change the filibuster rules and make it possible to confirm nominees with a majority cleared the path for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, each of whom was confirmed with fewer than 60 votes — the old filibuster standard before Mr. Reid changed it.

Mr. Cruz also said the change has helped Republicans more than it did Democrats. He said Mr. Obama nominated liberals anyway, and the Senate GOP rarely put up a fight, meaning that the nuclear option move gained Mr. Obama little.

But Republicans have been emboldened, knowing they can push through conservatives on the basis of their own majority in the Senate, leading to “the most conservative Cabinet we’ve had in decades.”

“There is one person directly responsible for that, and that is Harry Reid,” Mr. Cruz said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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