12/18/14 End the Nuclear Option


Last year, Senate Democrats ended more than 200 years of Senate rules and enacted the “nuclear option.” A bare majority of 51 votes would confirm most presidential nominations. With the exception of Supreme Court nominees.

Constitutional framers designed the Senate as the slower, more deliberative body.  Where careful thought and consideration balanced the House where it was expected there’d be more knee-jerk reaction to outside events.

The Senate was where a super-majority vote was required in the most important matters. The higher vote threshold was to ensure there was agreement by both parties.

The last major bill to pass without any minority support was ObamaCare [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)]. And that’s deeply unpopular today [here, here].

[Implementing the nuclear option in late 2013 was all about stacking the DC Circuit. This is the court that hears challenges to federal regulations. President Obama’s legislative agenda has gotten so extreme that he couldn’t pass his last major legislation even when he had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.]

[His job-killing cap & trade bill [American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454)] in 2010 was defeated by Democrats in a closed door session. Senate Republicans didn’t even get a chance to vote on it.]

In January, the GOP takes majority control of the Senate.  A question Republicans are debating is whether to keep the nuclear option.  Some believe it’s well-deserved payback to Senate Democrats.

That may be tempting.  But it’s petty.

Republicans should ditch the nuclear option and return to the original Senate rules. 

Our form of government has served us well for over two centuries.  To move in the direction of smaller majorities making major policy decisions in both houses of Congress makes us a lot more like Europe.

That, we do not want.

Republicans should end the nuclear option.  And restore order to the Senate.

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