Senators oppose nuclear option

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions Thursday opposed adoption of the so-called nuclear option, a change in the Senate rules designed to break filibusters.

The rule change allows for the approval of objectionable presidential nominees on a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold long respected by both parties when in power. Majority Leader Harry Reid led the push to cut that number to a simple majority of 51

Senators, making it easier to end debates and move ahead with confirmation votes. The change gives Democrats, who hold 55 seats in the Senate, a clear path for confirmation on judges and other cabinet posts.

The Senate on Thursday voted to invoke the so-called nuclear option out of frustration over Republicans who have been blocking Obama’s nominees.

“Senate Democrats voted to force Obamacare on the American people,” Shelby said in a statement released by his office. “Despite that disastrous exercise of power, they have now voted to give themselves even more of it.

“If Democrats think that they deserve more power, they should earn it from voters at the polls in 2014, not swipe it with a drastic rule change in the Senate today.

“Unfortunately, this radical move will allow President Obama to stack the executive and judicial branches with radical individuals who will do anything to preserve the terrible legislation that bears his name,” he said. “And make no mistake; today’s power grab is just the beginning.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions said Reid’s decision to exercise what’s known as the “nuclear option” dismantled minority rights in the Senate and prevents amendments from getting consideration.

“There are no minority rights left, they simply exist at the will of the majority,” Sessions said during an impassioned Senate speech today. “(Sen Reid’s) not a dictator. He does not get to dictate how this Senate is operated. He does not have the right to come in and change the rules.”