I thoroughly disagree with the idea that Senate Republican’s should use the “Nuclear Option”. I disagreed with it when then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did it in 2013 after he became too fed up with Republican obstructionism against Obama appointees, primarily for appeals-courts nominees. Reid was narrow, and only applied this to those nominees, thus leaving untouched Supreme Court nominees.
Reid set a precedent, as a result he opened the door for future ‘precedents’ to be made. This issue goes beyond party lines, frankly. If McConnell utilizes the option to push through a Supreme Court nominee, it corrodes the Senate, and it further corrodes the Supreme Court from being a “political body.” The filibuster is tool that is meant to empower senators to be able to legislate and fight for their constituents. Going nuclear robs senators of that capacity.
Neil Gorsuch’s vote should be left to the whims of normal Senate rules, and his vote should not be tainted by partisan attempts to corrode democratic rule.
Welp, it looks like the Senate is going to push through a spending bill that will include provisions aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, with an increase in military spending by upwards of $13 billion dollars. Shortly thereafter, they will apparently be attempting to pass a clean spending bill – Planned Parenthood intact – which will then be sent to the House of Representatives. Make no mistake, the Senate already failed in defunding Planned Parenthood back in August, and they’ll hardly success now. McConnell knows what happened back in 2013, and does not want a repeat, I dare say that Boehner doesn’t either, but lacks the zeal in selling that case to the House of Representatives. We’ll see. Naturally, we have Rand Paul and Ted Cruz at the helm of their respective ships the Beaver and the Dartmouth. Oh, the puns.* But jokes aside, Paul and Cruz could push back McConnell’s efforts in a Senate backed CR being sent to the House, where it is sure to meet opposition. Don’t forget, the House is controlled by the Republican party, and their successful passage of their last attempt to defund Planned Parenthood succeeded on party lines, with all but three Republican’s voting for it.
I, for one, believe that Congress needs to pass a clean appropriations bill, or stop gap measure, and then spend the next several months dishing out economic prerogatives. The entire government does not need to be shutdown over Planned Parenthood.
Expect some posts in the near future with a full blown discussion on Planned Parenthood, abortion, and moral fundamentalism!
*The Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor were three ships that saw their cargo pushed into the Boston Harbor in 1773. If you’ve still not figured out why it is that my referencing them are puns – i’ll make it simple. Paul and Cruz have made a habit of filibustering on issues that they have strong points of view on, and they’re both essentially part of the modern Tea Party alignment of the right wing. I.e., they’re both at the helm of a ship aimed at bringing chaos into Congress. It may not be tea being spewed into the Boston Harbor, but it’s certainly vitriol being spilled onto the Senate floor. Oh, the puns.
The graphs below break down cloture motions from the 86th Congress to the 113th. Because the “nuclear option” happened in the Senate today with respect to nominees, I decided to break down cloture motions specifically related to nominees.    For those of you caught up on history, some 60 Clinton-nominees were blocked, but they were blocked through other means than filibuster which is why they are not represented in these graphs. For those of you that do not know what cloture is, it is a parliamentary procedure to break debate to a quick end.
Back in the day, Congressmen were able to basically jabber on for as long as they wanted, as the House of Representatives grew, however, the rules were changed in that house to limit speech (each house may change its rules). The Senate, on the other hand, is much smaller, and therefore still allows for unlimited debate.
Interestingly, back in 1841, Henry Clay threatened to change Senate Rules to allow the majority to vote on closing debate. This was almost akin to political heresy. In any case, a civil war, a world war, and 3.2 million American lives lost, 1917 rolls around whereupon Woodrow Wilson nonviolently gets the Senate to adopt Rule 22, which is where cloture comes into play. Interestingly, the very first use of Rule 22 was to put an end to a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles.
In any case, Southern Democrats used the filibuster to prevent legislation from passing relevant to segregation and equal rights – like the 60 day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In any case, we reach 1975 where the Senate reduces the two-thirds vote to a three-fifths vote to enact cloture – or 60 votes.
Now, we reach November 21st, 2013, whereupon the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enacted the “nuclear option” which isn’t all that nuclear, as it only pertains to executive branch nominations. 60 votes are still necessary for Supreme Court nominees, and this has no effect on filibusters relevant to legislation.
Based on these graphs, I can’t quite blame the Senate. Just sayin’.