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St. Louis Public Radio - Blunt Decries 'Nuclear Option' For Filibuster

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By Chris McDaniel

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is joining his fellow Republicans in criticizing a push by Majority Leader Harry Reid that would limit the power of the filibuster -- a legislative technique to give power to the minority party.

Blunt and the GOP call Reid's proposed rule changes the "nuclear option." Reid prefers the term the "constitutional option."

Whatever you call it, it would limit the use of the filibuster by making a few changes -- most notably being that the one doing the filibustering actually has to be present for the speech, and can't just threaten it.

The filibuster is a tactic that's been used increasingly in recent history. Just last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even filibustered his own bill. Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who was presiding at the time, feigned whiplash and joked with reporters later that it "was really weird. McConnell kind of lost it."

But in 2005 -- before Blunt was in the Senate -- it was Republicans who were trying to limit the maneuver.

"But the bottom line is, Republicans decided not to do it," Blunt said in a conference call to reporters. "And hopefully that will be the end result here. I'm doing everything I can so it will be."

But Blunt says it's an important tool for the minority party.

"Harry Reid thinks he can take away the rights of the minority in a body that has always been designed to protect the rights of the minority," Blunt said. "The Senate has a purpose and the House has a purpose."

The House of Representatives does not allow filibustering. Blunt sarcastically remarked that if the filibuster is going to be restricted, the United States might as well have a unicameral legislature.

Blunt and his conservative compatriots have launched a website called "Stop The Nuclear Option."


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