Congress Senate

Missing the Point on the “Nuclear Option”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A number of congressional Republicans seem to be under the mistaken belief that if we simply eliminate the filibuster and embrace the "nuclear option," the flood gates would open up and they could finally repeal the president's executive orders and deferred action program for DREAMers.

Labrador and Huelskamp said at an event held in conjunction with the Heritage Foundation that the executive actions merited something as dramatic as a change to the Senate's long-standing rules. They argue that spending bills should only need 51 votes, instead of 60, to advance.

"Mitch McConnell can change the rules of the Senate. And this is important enough for Mitch McConnell to change the rules of the Senate," Labrador said.

There's a big problem with this idea.

Even if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to eliminate the filibuster, allowing the Senate to pass the House bill, the president isn't going to sign it. Neither he or any other president is going to sign a bill that would roll back their executive orders, especially not one as important as the deferred action program.

Even at the expense of the Department of Homeland Security, no president is going to repeal their own orders.

The only way this ends is if Congress funds the Department of Homeland Security, temporarily or otherwise, with no strings attached. Congressional Republicans do not have the votes necessary to override a presidential veto.

I would be remiss not to point out that congressional Republicans made nary a peep about the need for 60 votes during the previous session of Congress. Senate Republicans even objected to their own bills and amendments on several occasions.

  • bphoon

    I would be remiss not to point out that congressional Republicans made
    nary a peep about the need for 60 votes during the previous session of

    According to, since the 110th Congress (2007-2008) when the GOP went into the Senate minority, through the 113th Congress (2013-2014), the last Congress when the GOP was in the minority, there have been 644 cloture motions filed. Now, this measure misses the number of times the majority opted not to file for cloture but it is a pretty stark measure of the unprecedented use of the filibuster by Sen McConnell and his crew.

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s not nearly as popular with the GOP. Hmmm…imagine that.

    I’d also point out that Rep Huelskamp advocating elimination of the filibuster shows his utter lack of understanding of our government’s functions. No surprise because, imho, he lacks understanding of nearly everything. Besides, he’s in the House so his opinion of how the Senate operates means nothing.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Just like the the 56 votes to repeal Obamacare, the point of eliminating the filibuster is not to actually accomplish anything. That runs counter to the basic philosophy of the teabaggers. The point is to put on a show for the mouth-breathing base back home that they’re putting that Uppity Evil Kenyan Atheist Nazi Muslim Pinko Commie Usurper in his place.