Tags: Nuclear Option | Divisions | Senate | GOP

Nuclear Option's Future Creates Divisions Among Senate GOP

By    |   Tuesday, 09 December 2014 03:06 PM

As they prepare to assume the reins of power in the Senate, divisions are appearing within the Republican caucus about whether to keep the "nuclear option," reports The Hill.

While united in their objections to the Democratic majority's decision to allow a change to Senate rules by majority vote, thus limiting the minority party's ability to filibuster judicial and presidential nominations, not all members of the caucus want to return to normal rules.

"I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t," said Arizona Sen. John McCain when asked his views on keeping the nuclear option.

"I’m stunned that some people want to keep it," added McCain.

Whether to ditch the nuclear option is a discussion which will be started in today's Republican caucus meeting, although a formal decision will not be made until January.

One of the undecided members is Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, who told The Hill that he is "leaning toward leaving it alone."

Grassley, the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is scheduled to deliver a presentation at today's meeting.

One of the most vocal proponents of keeping the rule in place is Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has argues that so-called regular order can be returned to the Senate without reversing the rule change.

"We can [restore regular order] by reinstituting principles of regular order, honoring the committee process, allowing amendments, encouraging civility, preserving the legislative filibuster, and seeking constructive action through robust debate. But requiring 60 votes for nominations will do nothing to undo recent institutional damage — both to the Senate and to the courts — and will only invite further destruction of the upper chamber and the system of government we have sworn to defend," writes Hatch, the longest-serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a Politico column.

Hatch also contends Democrats would reinstate it if they regained the majority.

"Simply put, if Republicans re-establish the judicial-nomination filibuster, it would remain in place only until the moment that a new Democratic majority decided that discarding the rule again would be useful," he wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial shortly after the November elections.

The animated debate surrounding the pending decision may be wasted energy because for the next two years it might not matter either way, says Roll Call columnist David Hawkings.

"That’s because having the majority brings with it unfettered control of the Senate calendar. One of [incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell’s most important new powers will be to decide what comes to the floor, and when. In other words, whether the simple-majority threshold for nominations is abandoned or retained won’t make any difference when it comes to filling vacancies in the administration, at U.S embassies, in the regulatory agencies or on the federal bench," explains Hawkins.

"Whenever President Barack Obama sends up a name the GOP doesn’t like,  McConnell’s cleanest option will be to park the nomination papers on a high shelf in his office," he adds.

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As they prepare to assume the reins of power in the Senate, divisions are appearing within the Republican caucus about whether to keep the "nuclear option," reports The Hill.
Nuclear Option, Divisions, Senate, GOP
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 03:06 PM
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