Fili-what? Filibusters explained
(KMSP) - With Democrats poised to filibuster the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps a brush up on filibusters and “nuclear options” might be helpful.
Because of Senate rules, senators can talk and debate issues for as long as they want. However, when they talk for the purpose of delaying a vote, it’s considered a filibuster.
To stop a filibuster, the Standing Rules of the Senate require 60 votes, what’s called a cloture vote. Right now, Senate Republicans likely do not have enough votes to stop a Democratic filibuster.
The party’s other option is to change the Senate rules, what many call the “nuclear option.”
“The nuclear option would be to say that we’re going to change the rules, so the filibuster no longer applies to Supreme Court nominees,” said David Schultz, a professor at Hamline University. “If they get a majority vote that agrees to those changes in the rules of procedure, you would then only need 51 votes to break any filibuster.”
In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” for certain judicial and executive nominees. However, the nuclear option has not been used for Supreme Court nominees.
“It’s a chess game of if one party does one thing, how does the the other party respond? Short term and then the long term repercussions of doing something,” Schultz told Fox 9.
While stopping a filibuster requires 60 votes, once the filibuster stops, the vote requires a simple majority.