Republican Who Thought Up ‘Nuclear Option’ Says Idea Was A Mistake

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), who is considered the man who coined the term “nuclear option,” said shortly after the Senate voted Thursday to eliminate the filibuster that the idea was a “mistake.”

“It was mistake when we were talking about doing it,” Lott told CNN after the vote. “I still believe the Senate is a unique institution and the rules – no matter how cumbersome and difficult – are better than just making it another House of Representatives.”

Lott conceived of a plan to allow judicial appointments to pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, during the George W. Bush administration. At that time, Democrats were the minority party blocking the President’s nominees from confirmation.

The former Republican leader told CNN that he prefers to call the plan the “constitutional option” now, and warned that invoking it could have unforeseen consequences for Senate Democrats.

“Pretty quickly, I concluded I made a mistake,” he said. “It was natural for us to do it because we were mad about them filibustering district and circuit court judges. I was irate about it. But it can come back to bite you and they [the Democrats] are going to regret this.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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