WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2015 – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced a resolution to change the Senate rules that they said would “establish by rule the Senate tradition of approving presidential nominations by a simple majority vote.”
In a joint statement, the senators said: “This rules change would establish by rule the Senate tradition of approving presidential nominations of Cabinet members and judges by a simple majority vote, which existed from the time Thomas Jefferson wrote the rules in 1789 until 2003, when Democrats began filibustering federal circuit court of appeals nominees. Most importantly, it would change the rules the right way: through a two-thirds vote, which is what the existing rules provide. Unfortunately, on Nov. 21, 2013, Democrats broke the rules without even attempting to get the 67 votes required to change the rules, in order to put three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. As former Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) noted at the time, quoting former Sen. Arthur Vandenberg: ‘If a majority of the Senate can change its rules at any time, there are no rules.’”
The proposal will be considered by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and would ultimately require a two-thirds vote by the entire U.S. Senate to change the Senate’s rules. This is in contrast to Nov. 21, 2013, when the Democratic majority invoked what is known as the “nuclear option,” changing the precedent of the Senate with just 51 votes so that they could approve all presidential nominees – except for U.S. Supreme Court – with a simple majority.