Harry Reid’s Nuclear Option: Will the Filibuster Survive?
Sarah Jean Seman /
The filibuster, Senator Rand Paul’s (R–KY) tool when he stood 13 hours on the Senate floor in opposition to John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA Director, is under attack.
The Democrat-controlled Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV), is considering unprecedented changes to the filibuster—exercising the so-called “nuclear option”—in order to push through votes on President Obama’s nominees for Cabinet positions and agency posts.
This would change the procedure of the Senate. Under Senate rules, the filibuster gives Senators unlimited floor time until three-fifths of the Senate votes to invoke cloture and end the debate.
Reid’s nuclear option instead allows a simple majority vote for confirmation. This bodes well for the majority, but not necessarily the Senate.
Robert Dove, the Senate’s parliamentarian emeritus and author of “Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate,” believes the issue is vastly important:
I am a fan of the Senate filibuster. I think it forces the Senate to be bipartisan and if you eliminate it then you will turn the Senate into the House. The House, of course, is an incredibly partisan institution and the Senate would be an incredibly partisan institution.
The Heritage Foundation will host a panel discussion, “The Nuclear Option: The Filibuster ‘Power Grab’ in the Senate,” today at 12:30 p.m. Watch it online here.
Dove will speak at the event alongside Senator Rand Paul’s counsel, Brian Darling, and James Wallner, executive director of the Senate Steering Committee. Hans A. Spakovsky, senior legal fellow and manager of Heritage’s Civil Justice Reform Initiative, will host the event.
Sarah Seman is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.