Recent attention on what many believe to be a dysfunctional Senate has focused the national debate squarely on the institution’s complex parliamentary rules of procedure. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced plans to consider a legislative manuever known as the Nuclear Option to change the rules of the Senate in order to curtail the use of the filibuster and facilitate the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial and executive nominees. The filibuster allows senators to speak for as long as they wish, on any topic they choose, unless three-fifths of the Senate votes to end debate by invoking cloture. Opponents of the Nuclear Option argue that it is a power grab because it allows Senate majorities to circumvent the regular order and change the rules of the Senate with a simple majority vote over the objection of Senate minorities. This, proponents argue, inevitably undermines deliberation. The result is an errosion of one of the fundamental roles of the Senate. Join us as we debate and discuss the filibuster, proposed rules changes, and the traditional role of the United States Senate in the legislative process.
More About the Speakers
Parliamentarian Emeritus, United States Senate
Counsel, Office of Senator Rand Paul
James Wallner, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Senate Steering Committee
Hans A. von Spakovsky
Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow