‘Nuclear Option’ Held at Bay; It’s Politics, Folks

Yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) posted this ‘nuclear option surrender’ message over Twitter.

Ted Cruz's "nuclear option" surrender tweet

What had Cruz so disgusted with his party — specifically party leadership — was that under Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) leadership, Senate Republicans negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to give up the filibuster for executive nominations. Under terms of the deal struck, the Democrats will not use the so-called “nuclear option,” which would have allowed for a majority of 51 votes rather than a ‘super majority’ of 60 and the Republicans will finally allow President Obama to fill a number of positions the GOP has obstructed.

Though a deal has been struck, not everyone is happy. People on the right who feel as Cruz does believe that the GOP caved while simultaneously keeping the appearance of still having a filibuster in place for future executive nominations. On the left, many have been anxiously waiting for Senator Reid to drop the hammer and take steps towards ending the GOP’s continuous obstruction by putting comprehensive filibuster reform in place.

Here’s something that changes with this deal: the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was facing destruction and now they will be able to fill several important positions. The NLRB is the agency charged with protecting the rights of workers organising for better conditions on the job and, for five years, Senate Republicans have blocked President Obama’s nominees to the labor board. Next month, the term of a current board member will expire — which would leave the NLRB without a quorum and, therefore, unable to act.

Tides shift. It’s politics. If Reid hadn’t issued the nuclear option threat, Senate Republicans would have let the status quo — obstruction — remain. However, if Reid acted on his threat where would that leave Democrats in the future when the winds of change shift and Republicans are in the majority attempting to push through legislation that would be disastrous to a more liberal or middle-of-the-road agenda?

Again, that’s politics.