President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) is absolutely right in suggesting the so-called “Nuclear Option” as a solution to the political gridlock that produced the infantile government shutdown. Unfortunately, nobody will pay attention to this wise suggestion for a wide variety of reasons.
“If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long-term budget, no C.R.’s!,” Trump tweeted on 21 January 2018. The C.R. here stands for continuing resolution; or continuing appropriation, a short-term legislative fix that enables just enough money to let the federal government run for a few months to be released.
The Nuclear Option is actually very reasonable
The “Nuclear Option” Donald is asking for here is actually very reasonable. He simply wants the U.S. Senate to adopt the same rules for passing legislation that almost every other national legislature on Earth uses.
That is pass legislation by a simple majority, something Republicans can easily do because they have 51 members. Even if one or two GOP Senators were not available, all Republicans would need to pass a budget or any other legislation is to get one or two Democratic or independent votes, something that is not very hard.
Under the current Senate rules; which are based purely on archaic tradition, any U.S. Senator can block legislation with a long-winded speech called a filibuster. It requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. It is almost impossible to override a filibuster; because getting 60 Senators to agree on anything is nearly impossible.
Neither the filibuster nor the 60 vote rule, are in the Constitution, they are simply procedural and can be changed at any time. The Democrats actually killed the filibuster for U.S. Supreme Court appointments back on November 21, 2013, so there is a good precedent for applying the Nuclear Option to all legislation.
The “Nuclear Option” threatens neither democracy nor the constitution. It would simply put the Senate on the same operating rules as the U.S. House of Representatives and foreign bodies like the British, Canadian, Australian, and Indian parliaments. Senators would actually be able to get something done and implement long-term solutions.
The Disgusting reasons why Both Democrats and Republicans refuse to consider the Nuclear Option
Average people will ask if the Nuclear Option is reasonable,” why doesn’t the Senate adopt it?” The answer to that question is simple but utterly disgusting.
Adopting the Nuclear Option would reduce the power, prestige, and influence of individual U.S. Senators. Under the Nuclear Option, Senators would have less opportunity to grandstand, and less capacity to rake in cash in the form of “campaign contributions.”
A good example of the power the filibuster gives individual U.S. Senators occurred back in 2010. One Senator, Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), was able to remove language lowering the eligibility age for Medicare to 55 from Obamacare. Lieberman probably did that because such legislation would have cost health insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars in lost premiums.
That is why no Senator even wants to hear the suggestion and why they have tainted it with the disturbing nickname “Nuclear Option.” Disturbingly, U.S. Senators would rather shut the federal government down and let average Americans suffer than have their power reduced.
There is another reason why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) refuses to even discuss the idea; adopting the Nuclear Option would make it easy for Democrats to pass legislation when they get control of the Senate. This is the same reason why Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is equally allergic to the Nuclear Option – it would make it easy for Republicans to pass legislation.
In other words, politics are more important than the nation’s well-being than the crowd on Capitol Hill. They would rather have the country suffer from artificial crises that threaten the economy than solve problems.
How to Achieve the Nuclear Option
The worst part of all this is that Trump’s championing of the Nuclear Option makes it less likely because of the President’s unpopularity.
Senators can now say they are defending Democracy and American tradition from the tyrannical Donald when they refuse to consider the Nuclear Option. Worse, the corporate media will portray self-serving and short-sighted Senators that oppose the Nuclear Option as patriotic heroes standing up to the tyrannical Donald.
Trump simply is not the person to make the Nuclear Option a reality, but there is a distinguished personage in Washington D.C. that might get it passed. His name is Barrack Hussein Obama, and as a well-respected ex-President, he might have the influence to get the Nuclear Option over.
A smart way to achieve the Nuclear Option would be to have both Obama and his predecessor; George W. Bush (R-Texas), to start campaigning for it. Having two well-respected ex-presidents working for the issue might achieve the nuclear option, or least get people thinking about it. More importantly, having a distinguished liberal Democrat and a respected conservative Republican promoting the concept would establish the option as a bipartisan issue.
As it stands now, President Trump’s clumsy championing of the Nuclear Option makes the achievement of this sensible fix for Capitol Hill Gridlock even less likely. One has to wonder how many government shutdowns we will be forced to endure before the Nuclear Option becomes reality.