Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Two Contrasting Views of the Nuclear Option

The New York Times editorial board supports invoking the nuclear option: “For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.”

“Democrats made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.”

The Washington Post editorial board does not: “The rewriting of filibuster rules by Senate Democrats on Thursday changed the legislative body in fundamental ways, and for the worse. Republicans whose unjustified recalcitrance provoked the change should be ashamed. Democrats who are celebrating will soon enough regret their decision. The radical action, a product of poisonous partisanship, will also be an accelerant of poisonous partisanship.”

“The impact of changing the rules in this way may be even more far-reaching. The Democratic action sets a precedent that a future Republican majority will use to change procedures when it gets into a political jam, rather than negotiate with Democrats. The logical outcome is a Senate operating more like the House, with no rights for the minority, no reason for debate and no incentive to cooperate. For those who view that as an improvement, we offer today’s House as a counterargument.”

  • D McDowell

    Shorter Washington Post – we are deeply, deeply discomfited by this new ‘democracy’ fad.

  • nahska

    The problem with today’s House is that the majority of the majority is crazy. Having a filibuster requirement there wouldn’t do anything to change the situation.

  • NaphiSoc

    We must defeat the ‘Pubbies in ’14 and ’16 !!

  • CJR

    Yes, there are serious possible repercussions with enacting the “nuclear” option.
    But the thing the Washington Post does not mention is any other possible solution to the fact that a radicalized Senate minority is doing everything in its power to invalidate the will of the voters.
    Should the Washington Post come up with some other option, I would be glad to hear it. But, “You’ll be sorry” (while true) does nothing to solve the current situation.

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