Moves to limit or abandon a mechanism for ensuring the U.S. Senate’s minority party can shape legislation have long been known as “the nuclear option.” That’s because the legislative filibuster keeps Congress’ upper chamber from operating like the House of Representatives, where a simple majority governs, and its demise would figuratively “blow up” the Senate as we have known it.
Yesterday, amid signs that the Senate’s slimmest possible majority is poised to end or create exceptions to the legislative filibuster, Republican leader Mitch McConnell unveiled what might be called a “nuclear deterrent”: the threat to use procedural measures to slow the chamber’s business to a crawl. He calls it a “scorched-earth Senate.”
Immediately at issue is S.1, legislation that would preclude free and fair elections in this country. Let us pray that Sen. McConnell succeeds in deterring its party-line enactment.