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Senate GOP Moves to Invoke Nuclear Option, Fast Track Nominees

Institute for Policy Innovation

Today, the Senate GOP invoked the "nuclear option" to cut the debate time on presidential judicial and executive branch nominees, and IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews tweeted his support. 

Many call the move one step closer to doing away entirely with the filibuster. 

Matthews recounts the fascinating history of the filibuster in a 2017 PolicyByte. “While the U.S. Constitution does require a supermajority vote in several instances, the Senate filibuster is not one of them, nor was it part of the original rules of the Senate,” he explained.  

But in 1975 came the “virtual filibuster,” he said.

“A senator needed only to inform the majority leader that he or she intended to filibuster a vote, which effectively halted the process unless the majority leader was able to round up 60 votes for cloture.

The filibustering senator no longer had to stand up in the Senate and talk or debate for hours on end. You might call it the lazy senator’s filibuster.

With that change, filibusters increased dramatically, from just a few per two-year congressional session in the 1960s, to 30 or 40 in the 1970s, to well into the 100s when Democrats took over the Senate in 2007."

 IPI president Tom Giovanetti has voiced his support of reforming the filibuster, once tweeting: 

In a 2018 column in the Dallas Morning News, Giovanetti claimed the filibuster's paralyzing of legislation is also to blame for former House Speaker Paul Ryan's "throwing in the towel."

“For years now the filibuster has made it almost impossible for Congress to accomplish much, and certainly not structural reforms.

The modern filibuster has turned the Senate inside-out, making a supermajority necessary for normal Senate business and carving out specific exceptions for simple majorities such as reconciliation for omnibus spending bills. No wonder the only thing Congress seems to be able to do is spend money."

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