What’s the nuclear option?
November 23, 2013
Republicans in the Senate have been blocking all nominees for the D.C Court of Appeals. The D.C. Court of appeals is considered second only to the Supreme Court. There are currently an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the Court, and Republicans are fighting to prevent a Democratic majority. Senate Democrats are proposing a rule change to Senate voting. To pass almost anything in the Senate, a minimum of 60 votes is required. This means that buy-in from the minority party is necessary. Democrats are proposing to change the voting rules so that the number of votes required is only 51. This tactic to change Senate voting rules has been dubbed as the “nuclear option.”
As the article states, “Senators view themselves as being part of the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body.'” And while there are majority and minority parties, the minority party is protected with the 60 vote rule. Changing this would change an important part of the Senate. Senators are often more experienced and parties are usually more cooperative than in the House. Senators are able to debate issues without restrictions faced in the House and, unlike the House, the minority opinion is always significant. Republicans would undoubtedly take advantage of the rule change when they receive a Senate majority. However, Republican Senators should not block Court nominees based on party affiliation. Reducing the vote to 51 would remove one of the key differentiators that make the Senate the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”