Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander linked filibuster reform sought by Senate Democrats to the completion of the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository, Roll Call reports.
“A vote to end the filibuster is a vote to complete Yucca Mountain,” said Alexander, pointing out that some Republican legislative efforts would pass the Senate if they only required a majority of votes rather than the 60 required to break a filibuster — including legislation to open the nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
“If short-sighted Democrats turn the Senate into a place where a majority can do anything it wants, soon a majority of 51 Republicans will find a way to do anything we want,” Alexander added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has strongly opposed opening Yucca Mountain, and has also threatened to prevent filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. However, Republicans argue that the rules allow them block rule changes unless Reid can gather 67 votes to his side.
“Harry Reid is naive if he thinks he can use the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for nominees without significant fallout,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action. “In the near future, a Republican-controlled Senate could, theoretically, eliminate the filibuster in its entirety. At that point, Yucca Mountain, ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Fund] and a host of other policies Democrats have long filibustered would be on the fast track to passage in the Senate.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that if he becomes majority leader it would be difficult for him to argue against the rule changes, suggesting that repealing Obamacare and allowing drilling in ANWR would top the Republican legislative agenda if such changes were made.
“These are the kinds of priorities … that our members feel strongly about,” McConnell said, according to Roll Call. “I’d be hard pressed … precedent having been set, why should we confine it to nominations.”
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