Nuclear Option

How is what Harry Reid did a week ago different than the maneuver that Republicans threatened in the past?

Have the rules changed forever now ?

Dang, I thought we were going to bomb Iran or Venezuela or someone.

Last I heard, “nuclear option” would completely remove the fillibuster.

Last I saw, that is not what happened.

So, please use the correct words. They do, in fact, have meaning, much as you’d prefer otherwise.


I don’t entirely understand the details of what happened, but it sounds like Reid used a majority vote to end a loophole that would allow for post-cloture filibusters through possibly endless votes on procedural motions. There is a certain logic to this: if the Senate votes to end a filibuster, there should not be a double-secret filibuster that is immune to the Senate voting to end debate.

What had been proposed in the past – whether it was the Republicans’ proposal to require only a simple majority to invoke cloture on judicial nominations, or some Democrats’ proposals to re-write the rules of the Senate using only a simple majority at the beginning of session – were efforts to end PRE-cloture filibusters, not POST-cloture filibusters as Reid has apparently done.

Again, I’m a bit hazy on the details, but at first glace, this appears to be using the same procedure (overturning the ruling of the chair) to deal with substantively very different situations (pre-cloture vs. post-cloture filibusters).

In fairness, the OP linked to an article on The Hill which (a) had the headline “Reid triggers ‘nuclear option’ to change Senate rules, end repeat filibusters” and (b) led off the story with a blockbuster first sentence: “In a shocking development Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules.”

Sure, and that article was stupid for using it as well. The fact that ‘evil libruls using the nuclear option’ fits with the OP’s world view, of course, was just the reason that he posted it in the first place.


Why is that? You’ve lost me. Not difficult to do, I admit.

“Nuclear option” was used in the mid-2000s as a description for a GOP proposal to alter filibuster rules. That was averted by the Gang of Six compromise in which the Senate voted on some of Bush’s judicial nominees and agreed not to use the filibuster except in extreme situations (which of course means precisely nothing). The filibuster was not altered or eliminated. Since then, “nuclear option” has been attached to a bunch of different and unrelated legislative rules proposals that were viewed or portrayed as extreme for one reason or another. It’s confusing and stupid, and political reporters should stop recycling it.

I don’t understand where you are finding any mention of the OP’s worldview, other than your own unsupported assertions.

I believe he’s basing it on the other 1,928 posts the OP has made on this board.

Of course not. Republicans are free to change them back next time they control the Senate.

I believe that the trick that the Republicans were prevented from using hadn’t actually been used since 1941. So, the rules are pretty much the same as they had been before, as far as actual practice goes. Overruling the parliamentarian’s opinion by simple majority vote has happened a few times in the past. I can see how making major changes this way deserves the title “nuclear option,” but to slap down a maneuver someone dug up from the depths of history it seems a rather inflammatory term. Of course, it may just embolden the Republicans to abolish the filibuster (the media loves being even-handed, so of course “the Dems do it too”). Which would at least make the Senate a semi-functional legislative body.

It may have not been used, but I’m sure it’s been a consideration. I’m sure it’s been threatened to keep people from voting. Now the threat is off the table.

It’s also a nice way to make inroads on the filibuster problem. Remove the most innocuous problem first.

Is’t it the same in the sense that the majority used a simple majority vote to change a rule which required a super majority vote?

So which super-majority rules can now be changed in the future and which can’t?

I’m not an expert on Senate arcana, but no, I don’t think it’s the same. The “nuclear option” in 2005 would have barred the filibustering of votes on judicial nominees. here I think it means they eliminated a way to force votes on amendments after the Senate has already voted to end debate.

And it wasn’t the Gang of Six that compromised on that, it was the Gang of Fourteen. There’s another confusing phrase that should be done away with.

Did you read my post?

Do you concede that there is a difference between a filibuster on a matter on which cloture had not been invoked, and manipulating the rules to continue a filibuster after 60+ senators have already voted that a filibuster must end? What, in your view, is the use of cloture if a minority party can filibuster indefinitely after the Senate has already decided to end debate on a bill?

On second thought, read this.

It was written by someone at the very conservative American Enterprise Institute:

If the American Enterprise Institute is more or less supporting what Harry Reid did, you know that there is no issue here.

“Supporting” … I don’t think I’d go that far.

Even if the rule they changed was relatively minor, did they or did they not use a simple majority to change a procedure that in the past required a super-majority.

It is very difficult to have any kind of debate with you when I quote a respected conservative who is a recognized expert in this field who actually says, “Reid did not use the nuclear option, he did not do anything unprecedented, and he did not in any real way change the rules with a majority vote.”

Then you respond by repeating your debunked statements, in essence, that Reid used the nuclear option, this is unprecedented, and he rewrote Senate rules.

I came here for an argument, not simple contradiction.

That is too an argument!