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Author Topic: Nuclear Option  (Read 2621 times)

Feud

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Nuclear Option
« on: July 15, 2013, 07:55:03 pm »
I'm sure most people have heard talk about the nuclear option, there's a meeting tonight on it and there is expected to be a vote on it tomorrow morning.  Here's a bit of a run down of what's going on and why, at least from a conservative/republican perspective:

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You may have heard in the news about Sen. Reid using something called the "nuclear option." On Thursday, Sen. Reid (the leader of the Democrats, who have the majority) and Sen. McConnell (the Republican leader) got into a floor argument over it (I was in the Senate chamber gallery, it was interesting to watch).

Why is this news, and why is it a big deal? Here's why:

Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate has prided itself for centuries as a place where gentlemen (and women) meet, debate, and deliberate. It is an intentionally slow process, designed by the founders to help insulate our laws from radical changes. The Senate rules were designed with that in mind, and the filibuster is an important part of that.

One of the greatest depictions of civic accomplishment in our popular culture is when Jimmy Stewart filibusters the Senate in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Two of the biggest political news stories this year have been when Sen. Paul filibustered to raise awareness on drones, and when Wendy Davis filibustered the Texas legislature over abortion. It is distinctly American, in a land of free speech and civic discourse, that a person representing a minority view can stand before the legislature and world, saying "you may do this, but I will not sit down until I have said everything I want to say, and I will not let you do this so long as I have strength to peaceably oppose it."

Filibusters also promote bipartisanship. No one wants a filibuster, and so people from both sides of the aisle come together to compromise, to make the law into something that both sides would be happier with.

A great example of that is the recent immigration bill. In the House, where simple majorities rule, the bill developing is something that Republicans will love but Democrats will hate. But in the Senate, to avoid a filibuster and to make sure it would pass, Senators from both parties came together and worked out a deal that sought to obtain the goals and desires of both parties.

The nuclear option changes that. Normally, it takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. The nuclear option would lower that to a simple majority, 51 votes, allowing the majority party to lock the minority party out of debate, discussion, and involvement.

The issue that this revolves around is important as well. Nearly every person the president has nominated for a position has been approved, more than either President Bush or Clinton, in fact.At the center of it are three people who are nominated to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The constitution allows the president to make appointments to certain positions when congress is out of session that otherwise would need congressional approval. This allows the job to get down while congress might be on vacation or recessed, and then when congress gets back they have the chance to approve them.

President Obama, however, did something different. He waited until Congress went home for the night, then declared congress to no longer be in session and appointed these three people to office. Republicans saw this as an open and blatant ignoring of the constitution, and federal courts have agreed. It's now on it's way to the Supreme Court.

Which brings us to where we are now. If the Senate approves the people for those positions, then the conditions of that case become moot. The legal question exists, but there is no wrong being actively committed since they've been appointed, and there's no remedy since they can't be removed from an office the Senate approved them to. Rather than risking having the Supreme Court strike down the appointments as unconstitutional, which would both remove the power the executive is seeking to secure and be highly embarrassing, the White House and Sen. Reid want the issue to go away before the case is even heard. But they know that Republicans won't support approving them for office, both because their appointments were unconstitutional and because doing so gives tacit approval to such actions.

The solution? The nuclear option. By removing the Republican's ability to protest, by changing 250 years of tradition, then they can be approved with a simple majority and this whole mess hopefully goes away. Sen. Reid could, of course, simply call the Republicans bluff and let them filibuster. Eventually whichever Senator does it will get tired, and the appointments would move forward without changing rules, and with allowing the minority to voice their disapproval. But doing so might also attract a lot of unwanted attention to the issue, as in the case of Paul or Davis.

So, on Monday and Tuesday he has announced his intention to change the rules, while blaming Republicans as obstructing. Never mind that sweeping, bipartisan immigration passed just a couple weeks ago, and virtually every other nomination has been approved (about 99%).

It is wrong. It's bad for the Senate, and bad for the country. He even said so:

“The American people, in effect, reject the nuclear option because they see it for what it is–an abuse of power, arrogance of power. Lord Acton said power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. … That is what is going on. The rules are being changed in the middle of the game. They are breaking the rules to change the rules. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Americans understand this is a partisan political grab.”

And the President agreed:

"one day Democrats will be in the majority again, and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority... [W]e need to rise above an ‘ends justify the means’ mentality because we’re here to answer to the people -- all of the people -- not just the ones wearing our party label.”

So did Vice President Biden:

"At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill, it's about compromise and moderation. The nuclear option extinguishes the power of independents and moderates in the Senate. That's it, they're done. Moderates are important if you need to get to 60 votes to satisfy cloture; they are much less so if you only need 50 votes. Let's set the historical record straight. Never has the Senate provided for a certainty that 51 votes could put someone on the bench or pass legislation."

People say that Congress is broken. If it is, it is a result of a breakdown in the ability of the two sides to have reasonable discussion, debate, and compromise. The nuclear option will only make that worse. Much, much worse.

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    Arktos

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #1 on: July 15, 2013, 08:00:45 pm »
    There has been discussion of the "nuclear option" on both sides for years. As neither side has any particular interest in effective government, both sides keep the filibuster around. They even use the same arguments to defend it. Most recently, Mr. Reid declined to end the filibuster despite significant pressure from his party. I don't see it going anywhere.
    "If you are scared you die every day. If you are not scared, you die only once." -Giovanni Falcone

    JesseL

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #2 on: July 15, 2013, 08:33:17 pm »
    There has been discussion of the "nuclear option" on both sides for years. As neither side has any particular interest in effective government, both sides keep the filibuster around. They even use the same arguments to defend it. Most recently, Mr. Reid declined to end the filibuster despite significant pressure from his party. I don't see it going anywhere.

    Heaven help us if we ever get an effective government.


    Arizona

    coelacanth

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #3 on: July 15, 2013, 10:20:29 pm »
    +1    :panic
    Arizona" A republic, if you can keep it."

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    Gunnguy

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #4 on: July 15, 2013, 11:46:32 pm »
    I agree, not going away cause they can always bring it back once the Republicans win the Senate.
    Indiana'The average response time of a 911 call is over 23 minutes, the average response time of a .44 magnum is 1400 feet per second.'

    Kaso

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 03:41:24 am »
    To be fair, the Senate's job is to make sure the President's nominees are qualified for the job, not decide if they are 'moderate enough,' or 'politically acceptable' to both sides.  While both sides have been doing this for the past ten years, it makes it no less shameful.

    That said, Senator Reid is being very short sighted - someday his party will be in the minority, and he might wish he was able to stall a certain bill or nominee.  But he will no longer have that option.



    Kaso

    kunkmiester

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #6 on: July 17, 2013, 03:17:28 am »
    You can tag team a filibuster, so just waiting for one person to get tired isn't enough to defeat the threat.
    WashingtonEvil is Evil, no matter how small

    xsquidgator

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #7 on: July 17, 2013, 06:24:58 pm »
    The same a-hole who threatened the end of civilized society less than 10 years ago when he was in the minority, now is going nuclear so that his communist buddies can get confirmed.  And of course no one in the blue states has the decency to commit seppuku over such hypocrisy and dishonesty.  Check.

    I'm going to watch "Armageddon" tonight, and this time I'm rooting against Bruce Willis and for the asteroid.

    Kaso

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #8 on: July 17, 2013, 06:39:58 pm »
    The same a-hole who threatened the end of civilized society less than 10 years ago when he was in the minority, now is going nuclear so that his communist buddies can get confirmed. 
    So I'm not the only one who remembers.  Does anyone else remember, when the GOP threatened this, a Democrat (not sure who it was) was shown on television threatening that 'someday the Democrats will be back in power, and you'll wish you had it.'  Or something to that effect.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the senator was either Reid or Daschle...  :bash



    Kaso

    Feud

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 08:48:43 pm »
    So I'm not the only one who remembers.  Does anyone else remember, when the GOP threatened this, a Democrat (not sure who it was) was shown on television threatening that 'someday the Democrats will be back in power, and you'll wish you had it.'  Or something to that effect.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the senator was either Reid or Daschle...  :bash

    Was it this:

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    One day Democrats will be in the majority again, and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority. -Sen. Obama

    Kaso

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 02:15:38 am »
    It may have been.  :banghead



    Kaso

    Mikee5star

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    Re: Nuclear Option
    « Reply #11 on: July 20, 2013, 02:13:54 am »
    The more I see and read about Harry Reid the sorrier I am for the people of Nevada.  I think that Alaska elects people we want to get out of the state.  That idea does not work real well for those of you with in three or four flying time.
    Alaska

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