Senate Republicans used the “nuclear option” Wednesday to unilaterally reduce debate time on most presidential nominees, the latest in a series of changes to the fabric of the Senate to dilute the power of the minority.
The move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately paves the way to expedite confirmations of President Donald Trump’s judicial and executive branch picks and comes amid deep GOP frustration with Democrats’ delays. Future presidents will benefit, too, though McConnell and Trump stand to gain inordinately as they seek to fill 130 District Court vacancies during the 18 months before the 2020 elections.
The nuclear option — a change of the Senate rules by a simple majority — gained its name because it was seen as an explosive maneuver that would leave political fallout for some time to come. But it’s now been deployed three times in just six years amid continuous partisan warfare over nominations.