Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Going Nuclear

Wampum has a great post today about the “nuclear option” through which Republicans could change Senate rules to allow a filibuster to be broken by a simple majority. Frist hasn’t gone nuclear yet, and for good reason.

In recent interviews and statements, four Republican senators have expressed deep reservations about the "nuclear option." At least two others appear to be leaning against it, although less definitively, and several have refused to state a position publicly…
"At this point, it's too close to call," Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, which opposes Frist's proposal, said Friday. If pushed to the wall, said Neas, who previously worked for two Senate Republicans, a slim majority of senators probably will rebuff Frist because they want to preserve the Senate's uniqueness and not make it "just like the House." …
If five Republicans joined a solid bloc of Democrats, Cheney could break the 50-50 tie in favor of banning judicial filibusters. If a sixth Republican defected, Frist would fall short.
The GOP leader appears perilously close to that breaking point. In recent weeks, four moderate Republicans have criticized the nuclear option in published remarks that their offices confirmed or did not challenge.

Two of those moderates are ours.
Friday. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) told the Portland Press Herald, "I just don't see how it's going to benefit us, even in the majority, to change it to a simple majority [vote] because ultimately it could create more wedges and political wounds." Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) "doesn't think the nuclear option is a great idea," her spokeswoman, Jen Burita, said.

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