Here's one explanation of the so-called "nuclear option":
In U.S. politics, the nuclear option is an attempt by a majority of the United States Senate to end a filibuster by invoking a point of order to essentially declare the filibuster unconstitutional which can be decided by a simple majority, rather than seeking formal cloture with a supermajority of 60 senators. Although it is not provided for in the formal rules of the Senate, the procedure is the subject of a 1957 parliamentary opinion and has been used on several occasions since. The term was coined by Senator Trent Lott (Republican of Mississippi) in 2005; prior to this it was known as the constitutional option.So... how come no Dems are now threatening the "nuclear option"???
[Wikipedia entry, Nuclear option]
With 51 votes I bet the Senate could get something like the House healthcare bill passed.
I bet they could get something like a decent stimulus passed (thumbing their collective nose at Obama).
FYI: Senator Udall's proposal is to take seriously Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution:
Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.Apparently the Senate rules now stipulate that the preceding Senate's rules automatically apply - which include 60-vote cloture and 67-vote change to Senate rules. Senator Udall's proposal is simple:
First order of business for 112th Senate is to set the rules.... and here's a kicker!
[from the same Wikipedia source]... In 1957, Vice President Richard Nixon issued an advisory opinion stating that no Senate may constitutionally enact a rule that deprives a future Senate of the right to approve its own rules by the vote of a simple majority. Nixon's advisory opinion, along with similar opinions by Hubert Humphrey and Nelson Rockefeller, has been cited as precedent to support the view that the Senate may amend its rules at the beginning of the session with a simple majority vote.This seems to be the argument to which Udall appeals.
Who knew I'd ever have reason to praise former Vice-President Nixon!
Would this work?
But... I'd rather not wait till January 2011 to find out!