U.S. Senate members convened today to vote with or against the proposed “nuclear option” that will change seante filibuster rules. GOP senators have obstructed and blocked all three of President Obama’s nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in order to maintain a lopsided, right-wing slant in the court.
The Huffington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) invoked the “nuclear option” upon reaching the 51 votes required to implement it. That Reid found success, his news rules will only require that, with exception of Supreme Court nominees, all executive and judicial nominees receive a simple majority, as opposed to the traditional two-thirds vote, which has been a precedent for the last two hundred years.
The voting also greenlighted a change that prevents the minority party from filibustering executive and judicial nominations. The Senate approved the changes by a 52-48 margin, one vote over the minimum of 51.
Reid insisted that the current system in the Senate was broken and was overdue for a much needed change in procedure.
“It’s time to change before this institution becomes obsolete,” said Reid.
The Hill outlines the reason this motion is called the “nuclear option,” noting that “critics warn that it would obliterate bipartisan relations in the Senate.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke harshly about the Democrats move and success at implementing the “nuclear option.” McConnell said that “You [Reid] may regret this a lot sooner than you think.” McConnell and the GOP accused the Democrats of hypocrisy for criticizing the “nuclear option” in 2005.
However, in that statement, McConnell and Republicans set themselves up as hypocrites when the party wanted to implement it that same year.
This new precedent could potentially change the political landscape within the Senate for years to come. If the “nuclear option” does indeed damage bipartisanship in this chamber of Congress, the Democrats are going have to step up and play more aggressively against the GOP.
As detached and crazy as the Republicans are, they at least have backbones. And what’s logic and smart policy for the Democrats if they don’t have the consistent toughness to stand their ground? It did take a government shutdown for the Dems to perk up and show their teeth to the GOP, after all.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.