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Also known as the "nuclear option," Senate Democrats are gunning for parliamentary rule changes that would silence the Senate minority and along with them, their constituents.
Under current Senate rules, 60 votes are required to end debate and 67 votes are required to change the rules of the Senate. The nuclear option, pushed by Majority Leader Reid and Senators Udall and Merkley, would break the 67 vote rule in order to change the rules, meaning only a simple majority of 51 votes would be necessary for Democrats to change Senate rules, and in particular, the fillibuster rules. Given the current Senate make-up, this move is obviously politically advantageous to Democrats.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Senator Barrasso explained:
Under the current rules, the Senate's minority party has limited opportunities to influence legislation. It can do so in three main ways: by offering amendments in committee, by offering amendments on the Senate floor, and by negotiating with the majority party before the so-called cloture vote to end debate.
Sen. Reid has already gutted two of these three opportunities, which is a major reason for today's stalemate.
He has made unprecedented use of Senate Rule 14, for example, which allows the majority leader to bypass committees and write bills behind closed doors. Sen. Reid has used this rule to skip committees nearly 70 times, bringing bills straight to the floor—with zero input from members of the minority.
Also expressing concern, Senator Boozman explained the nuclear option as a, "power grab that would allow Majority Leader Reid to stop debate or compromise surrounding controversial legislation," or any legislation for that matter.
Interestingly enough, the Senator Reid of 2012 contradicts the Senator Reid circa 2005. "Ultimately, this is about removing the last check in Washington against complete, abusive power. Americans understand this is a partisan, political grab," Senator Reid said in 2005 when the Republican majority proposed a rule change that would eliminate the fillibustering of judicial nominees. Following debate, the rule change never took place.
Last week, Senator Johnson indicated the nuclear option would definitely weaken and possibly eliminate the minority parties ability to debate. "We need more transparency and bipartisanship not less," he said. Democrats do not have a legislative mandate. While the Democrats have a healthy majority in the Senate, the House is run by Republicans. It's time for Democrats to practice what they're forever preaching -- bipartisanship and compromise. But rather than reaching across the aisle to work with their Republican counterparts, Democrats seek to change the rules to suit their agenda, thereby eliminating dissenting opinion and debate of any kind.
It's time to get involved. "I caution the majority leader that I will not simply stand by and witness his destruction of the rights of senators, nor his power grab through clear breaking of Senate rules and precedents. I will fight back," Senator Paul said.
There's a wealth of information on the nuclear option here. And you can find your Senator's phone number here. Call the Senate Democrats and tell them you oppose their blatant attempt to silence the minority and call Senate Republicans to let them know you stand with them in the fight against the tyranny of the majority. We cannot sit idle while the left attempts to eradicate our voices from the debate.