Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Going Nuclear

Every couple of years, depending on which party is holding the keys and which party is in the backseat, the "nuclear option" -- ending the ability to filibuster -- gets floated by various congressionals as a way of ending perceived obstructionism from the minority. This would eliminate the need for sixty votes to end debate and allow for a simple majority vote on most major legislation.

Just a few years back, when the Dems were using the maneuver to roadblock various Bush appointees, the Republican leadership of the time, led by Bill Frist, came pretty darn close to going nuclear and doing away with the supermajority. At the time, cooler heads prevailed, aware no doubt that the party in charge one day won't be, and that's when they'll wish they had it, and I pretty much agreed for that very reason.

However, thanks mostly to wish-washy Dems like Lincoln and Nelson, not to mention the dependably undependable Mr. Lieberman, that sixty vote threshold is sure doing a hell of a job squeezing any actual reform out of health care reform. Thanks to this and many more examples, Steven Pearlstein makes a pretty compelling argument that if there's any hope to be had of things actually getting done in Washington, now is as good a time as any to drop the bomb on the filibuster.

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