Filibuster and Nuclear Option

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Nuclear Option

“The Nuclear Option (or constitutional option) is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override a rule – specifically the 60-vote rule to close debate – by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules. The option is invoked when the majority leader raises a point-of-order that only a simple majority is needed to close debate on certain matters. The presiding officer denies the point of order based on Senate rules, but the ruling of the chair is then appealed and overturned by majority vote, establishing new precedent.


“This procedure effectively allows the Senate to decide any issue by simple majority vote, regardless of existing procedural rules such as Rule XXII which requires the consent of 60 senators (out of 100) to end a filibuster  for legislation, and 67 for amending a Senate rule. The term "nuclear option" is an analogy to nuclear weapons being the most extreme option in warfare.


“The Nuclear Option has only been used in practice twice. In November 2013, Senate Democrats used the nuclear option to eliminate the 60-vote rule on executive branch nominations and federal judicial appointments other than those to the Supreme Court. In April 2017, Senate Republicans used the nuclear option to eliminate the exception for Supreme Court nominees, after the nomination of Neil Gorsuch failed to meet the requirement of 60 votes for ending the debate.”


Click here to read about the origin of the Nuclear Option.

The Filibuster

“A Filibuster is a political procedure where one or more members of parliament or congress debate over a proposed piece of legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out a bill" and is characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. This form of political obstruction reaches as far back as Ancient Roman times and could also be referred to synonymously with political stonewalling.”


Click here to read more about the origin of the Filibuster