Deterring the Nuclear Option

photo credit: gage skidmore

In our dealings with the Soviet Union in the latter half of the 20th century, a theory of how to stop a nuclear war was known as “mutually assured destruction.” The theory went that the Soviets would not launch a first strike knowing that a counterstrike would inflict similar or worse damage.

Even on a smaller scale, the fallout from a nuclear blast is severe — and it is nearly impossible to tell which way the winds will blow and who will be affected by the fallout.

While obviously hyperbole, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is currently threatening to launch what congressional observers refer to as the “nuclear option” — that is, breaking the current Senate rules to permanently curtail the rights of the minority party by ending the possibility of extended debate and amendments on vital pieces of legislation.

Much like any nuclear alternative, deterrents are available if one is willing to exercise them, and the possible dangers of unforeseen fallout exist. Today, 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.

Currently, the Senate requires 67 votes, a two-thirds majority, to shut down debate to change its rules. The Senate should be consistent and not changed at the whim of 51 of its members. Sen. Reid knows this, but is insisting that debate on Senate rules can be shut down with 51, and plans to use this tactic to impose his will on the body.

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