How Many Votes Does It Take to Go Nuclear?

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 21: (L-R) Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leave the Senate floor and head to a news conference on Capitol Hill, November 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 52-48 to invoke the so-called 'nuclear option', voting to change Senate rules on the controversial filibuster for most presidential nominations with a simple majority vote.
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Michael Catalin
Nov. 21, 2013, 3:15 p.m.

When pos­ter­ity looks back on the day Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., changed the Sen­ate’s rules and asks what play­book he was run­ning, let the re­cord show it took four votes for the Sen­ate to blow up its rules on nom­in­a­tions.

First, the scene: Re­id stood at his lectern as sen­at­ors took their seats on the floor. In the rare cases when the Sen­ate gath­ers en masse on the floor, most tend to look bored, check­ing their phones or cas­u­ally chat­ting with one an­oth­er. But on Thursday, most sen­at­ors listened at­tent­ively to Re­id and then to Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky.

Hav­ing filed a mo­tion to re­con­sider Pa­tri­cia Mil­lett’s ap­point­ment to the D.C. Cir­cuit, Re­id ef­fect­ively used her nom­in­a­tion as the in­stru­ment to change the rules.

The Sen­ate’s jar­gon, while ar­cane, has a cer­tain rhythm. And as if this whole pro­cess wer­en’t mind-bend­ing enough, the ac­tu­al vote that res­ul­ted in the rules change saw Demo­crats vot­ing no. That’s be­cause the ques­tion was on up­hold­ing the rul­ing of the chair that 60 votes are needed to end de­bate on nom­in­a­tions.

With that in mind, here’s how each vote went and what you need to know about each.

  • First, there was the mo­tion to pro­ceed to the mo­tion to re­con­sider the mo­tion to in­voke clo­ture on Mil­lett. This ef­fect­ively ended de­bate on re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the clo­ture mo­tion on Mil­lett’s nom­in­a­tion. It was agreed to on a 57-40 vote with three sen­at­ors vot­ing present. All Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted yes. Geor­gia Re­pub­lic­ans Saxby Cham­b­liss and Johnny Isak­son along with Or­rin Hatch of Utah voted present.
  • At this point Mc­Con­nell, per­haps stalling for time to work out a com­prom­ise, moved to ad­journ. That vote failed on a mostly party-line vote of 46-54, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., vot­ing with Re­pub­lic­ans.
  • Then came a mo­tion to re­con­sider the mo­tion to in­voke clo­ture on Mil­lett. This vote es­sen­tially put the Sen­ate in po­s­i­tion to in­voke clo­ture once again. It was agreed to 57-43, with Collins and Murkowski vot­ing again with Re­id. Cham­b­liss, Isak­son, and Hatch voted with the GOP.
  • After Mc­Con­nell made a few par­lia­ment­ary in­quir­ies, Re­id sought a rul­ing from the chair on wheth­er Sen­ate rules held that it takes 60 votes to in­voke clo­ture on nom­in­a­tions. Preident Pro Tem­pore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ruled that they do. Then Re­id ap­pealed the rul­ing. Sen­at­ors were asked wheth­er the de­cision should stand and voted 48-52 against sus­tain­ing the chair’s rul­ing. Re­id lost three Demo­crats: Manchin and Sens. Carl Lev­in of Michigan and Mark Pry­or of Arkan­sas.

At that point, the Sen­ate had of­fi­cially gone nuc­le­ar. Clear as the sound of a gavel com­ing down, right?

What We're Following See More »
ORDER REMAINS BLOCKED
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Travel Ban
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals "has upheld the nationwide block of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. ... It upholds the suspension of a revised version of the executive order that the Trump administration crafted to better hold up to legal scrutiny than an earlier version."

Source:
APPEALS COURT IN VIRGINIA
Court Upholds Block On Travel Ban
7 hours ago
BREAKING
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
CHINA OBJECTS
U.S. Destroyer Sails Close to Artificial Chinese Island
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."

Source:
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
10 hours ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login