Here Is What The Senate’s “Nuclear Option” Is


Mitch McConnell


In another string of controversial tweets, President Trump has expressed his desire for Congress to act swiftly and forcefully to pass his border security agenda. One of his tweets expressed support to “use Nuclear Option if necessary.” Though it’s not the first time he has called for such an action, it is one that Senate Republican leaders have supposedly ruled out.

In the United States Senate, it typically takes a supermajority, or 60 votes, to “end debate,” which includes the stopping of filibusters. However, if the majority leader decides that the debate has been sufficiently decided to the point where a simple majority of 51 votes is acceptable, they can stop a filibuster with only 51 votes. This is particularly useful when the leading party doesn’t have 60 votes, and the opposing party is attempting to kill a bill by talking endlessly, but is considered a relatively extreme measure, hence the name, “nuclear option.” Also in part due to the future implications of handing such a power to the ruling party through the setting of this new precedent. For instance, if President Obama had the power that the nuclear option grants during his presidency, he would have been able to pass a radically farther left agenda than what was actually passed. The nuclear option essentially raises the stakes enormously on each election going forward and may have a variety of unforeseen implications down the road.

As of now, there isn’t much to speculate on besides two tweets, and the president’s twitter feed has been an unreliable predictor of the government’s actions in the past. What is known is that President Trump’s attitude towards immigration reform is significantly less open to compromise than what he previously indicated. In months prior, he stated his willingness to keep the “Dreamers,” or illegal immigrants who pledge to finish school and get a job, from getting deported. This provision would be an exchange with the Democrats for other, more important parts of his agenda such as the border wall. Now, he tweets that “our country is being stolen!”

This all comes in the wake of the “caravan of immigrants” entering the country, mostly from Central America. The flock of many hundreds of migrants entering the US illegally caused alarm to border security advocates and was the central topic of Trump’s tweets.

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