Gingrich: 'Even More Power and More Control' for Obama

By Susan Jones | November 22, 2013 | 5:39 AM EST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., center, with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., at far right, defends the Senate Democrats’ vote to weaken filibusters (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( - Because the Senate wasn't functioning the way President Obama thinks it should, he supported Democrats Thursday as they overturned 200 years of Senate tradition by essentially doing away with the filibuster.

Democrats invoked the so-called "nuclear option," allowing presidential nominees be confirmed with 51 votes, instead of 60. 

"[T]his was one more step to give President Obama even more power and even more control," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday on CNN's "Crossfire."

The Senate changed its longstanding filibuster rules only for presidential nominees, not for legislation -- but Gringrich said that will probably change, too.

"And I think what struck me, I think this is a very historic vote. I don't think this is just a tactic. And if you watch the president's press conference today, the entire opening of the press conference is a litany of legislative problems. He doesn't get to the appointments until after he goes through layer after layer of legislative problems, which signals to me he intends to unwind the entire filibuster by the time this is done."

"That's exactly what I believe," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a guest on the show. "I believe that, given the fact that unemployment today in this country is much, much too high, that we need to raise the minimum wage, that we need to create millions of jobs. What we have seen in the last three or four years, is in the Senate, we have gotten over 50 votes for a decent jobs bill, for some environmental bills, for bills that protect women against job discrimination, to protect the high cost of college education and make sure that college loans are affordable. We've gotten over 50 votes, but we can't pass anything," Sanders complained.

The Democrat power grab permanently changes the Senate, which used to be a slower and more deliberative body than the House, Gingrich said.

"[T]he U.S. Senate as it once was may have died forever," Gingrich said. "The Founding Fathers realized that your opinion changes when your relative power changes. Filibusters helped make the U.S. Senate what they called the saucer that cooled the hot coffee coming from the House. And that was by design. As of today, that's changed forever..."

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), also a guest on the show, noted that Democrats passed Obamacare with only Democrat votes: "We've seen how that's worked out," he said. And now the Senate has voted to change the rules with "a hundred percent Democrat votes, just like pushing through Obamacare."

Sanders suggested that the "key action" taken on Thursday came from Republicans, not the Democrats who voted to change Senate rules: "The key action today was taken by the Republicans, who made a decision that in an unprecedented way they would obstruct virtually every initiative that Obama and the Democrat brought forth. I know Harry Reid. Harry Reid is an institution guy. He loves the Senate. He's been there for a long time. He's not happy about doing this," Sanders said.

"He is doing it, know, he's so frustrated. Nothing is happening. The truth of the matter is our country is hurting today. ...Virtually, every initiative that comes up -- look, a few weeks ago, we were dealing with our Republican friends in the House who shut it down, because they had the bright idea that they wanted to end the funding of Obamacare. They went too far. You're seeing the same practice taking place in the Senate. What Reid has done is respond to that, trying to bring back a level of functionality in the Senate."

"How are you going to get a bill through the House if you don't get a bipartisan vote to do it in the Senate? You've got to work with the Republican Party..." Hoeven said.