As dutiful sore losers, the Republican party is now crying foul over filibuster reform. Those against reform are calling this the “nuclear option,” which is incorrect. The “nuclear option” was first proposed by then-Vice President Richard Nixon, and was a method to overturn an in-place filibuster. What Reid is discussing instead is a rule change to be passed at the beginning of the session, something which happens with regularity. The last time this happened was in 2011, in fact. The Senate Republicans’ complaining in this manner and, even worse, their use of the term “nuclear option,” is a clear indicator that they know they’ve been beaten.
Tom Coburn, the Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has this to say:
I think the backlash will be severe. If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.
Countering Senator Coburn is Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin:
We cannot allow the Senate to be dysfunctional by the use of filibusters. We’ve had over 300 filibusters in the last six years — it’s unprecedented. What we’re talking about is very basic — you want to start a filibuster, you want to stop the business of the Senate, by goodness’ sake, park your fanny on the floor of the Senate and speak. If you want to go to dinner and go home over the weekend, be prepared, the Senate is moving forward.
The truly amusing thing about the whole protest from the Republicans is that they are calling this a move to undermine the centuries-long history of the Senate. The problem is, the rule which they are abusing was only introduced in 1975. Before 1975, the Senate rules for a filibuster were closer to what Senator Reid and the Democrats are proposing.
Until the Senate sets its rules, the first vote of a Senate session, the filibuster does not exist, simple as that. Claiming a nuclear option, or constitutional option, or crying foul, is simply nothing but sour grapes. The GOP knows that they broke the “gentlemen’s agreement,” now they don’t want to pay the price for breaking their 2011 bargain to not abuse the filibuster. They can cry about anything, from the addition of amendments or such, but the fact is they refuse to allow bills to go ahead to the point that they can offer up amendments. It is akin to, oh, blocking a jobs bill then complaining that no jobs were created.
The Republican party is now acting like a petulant child caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and are refusing to pay the penalty. Even more amusing are the threats that they will use everything in their power to obstruct the Senate. That’s what they have spent the past 4 years doing anyway.