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 »
THE PLAN ALL ALONG?
Manchin Drops Objections, Clearing Way for Spending Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."

Source:
UNCLEAR WHAT CAUSED CHANGE OF HEART
Giuliani Out of Running For State
1 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.

Source:
ALSO VICE-CHAIR OF TRUMP’S TRANSITION TEAM
Trump Taps Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior Secretary
1 days ago
BREAKING
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
×
×

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