Dems block resolution to change Senate rules setting up nuclear option

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican resolution Tuesday to reduce debate time for most presidential nominees.

The measure needed 60 votes to advance but fell short on a 51-to-48 party line tally.

With this vote, Republicans were attempting to approve the rule change through the regular legislative process, with the hope that at least some Democrats would support it.

But since Democrats blocked it, Republicans say they will use the “nuclear option” Wednesday or Thursday to force the rules change through on a simple majority vote.

The nuclear option is a controversial tool that has been used by both parties in recent years and contributes to the overall weakening of the powers and influence of the minority party that were once cherished in the Senate. Without the nuclear option, a rules change would require a super majority vote.

The rules change would lower from 30 hours to two hours the amount of debate time allowed for district court and sub-Cabinet nominees after a filibuster is broken. It does not affect circuit court judges or Cabinet-level appointments.

Republicans say they had to take the step because Democrats routinely are using Senate rules to slow walk nominees by utilizing all the allotted debate time for nominees, making it difficult for President Donald Trump to put people in place to run his government.

“I believe that every one of my colleagues knows our present situation is unhealthy for this body and for any administration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.

Democrats say that debate time is critical to properly vet the President’s picks, especially Trump’s who they argue has chosen many controversial figures to serve in his government.