Does this mean he has 51 votes lined up already? The Hill sees it more as a “headache” for the Senate Majority Leader:
The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.
“I hope within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that,” Reid told reporters.
Although its use has been threatened in the past to spur the minority party to agree to reforms, the nuclear option has never been used to change the standing rules, say parliamentary experts.
But, as Joan McCarter points out, that’s not quite accurate:
The nuclear option was what Republicans were talking about doing during the Bush Administration to block Democrats’ filibuster of judicial nominees. It would have entailed Vice President Cheney, acting as presiding officer, declaring the filibuster of nominees unconstitutional. That’s pretty nuclear, particularly considering it would have happened mid-Congress. The constitutional option, on the other hand, is what we’re talking about here: the establishment of rules at the beginning of a Congress.