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WUSF News Staff
Thu November 29, 2012
Bill Nelson Opposes Senate's 'Nuclear Option'
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to change the rules of the filibuster game, but he’s getting pushback from both sides of the aisle – including his fellow Democrat, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.
As things now stand, the Senate’s Republican minority often uses the filibuster to stall legislation proposed by the Democratic majority. Reid wants to limit the filibuster’s power, but to do this he’ll need two-thirds of his fellow Senators—or 67 people—to agree to the changes. Not gonna happen.
So Reid wants to change the rules about how the rules can be changed. The Nevada Senator has proposed using the so-called “nuclear option,” which would allow the Senate to make changes through majority rule, or just 51 votes.
Proponents contend that the nuclear option is available on the first day of a new Congress.
“But others, deeply aware that a majority party today can be the sad and lonely minority tomorrow, are not keen on playing the 'nuclear option' card, with majority rule," this article from the New York Times points out.
This includes Nelson, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator.
“I don’t like the nuclear option,” Nelson told the Times. “I reserve the right to decide later, but instinctively I don’t like it. It’s avoiding the rules.”
Nelson added that “a body like this runs on comity and common sense,” saying that going nuclear would ruin both.