Reid Uses 'Nuclear Option' to Change Senate Rules
Move limits amendments that can be proposed after filibusters
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2011 7:51 AM CDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, after a Democratic caucus lunch.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Harry Reid shocked Congress last night when, without warning, he deployed the so-called “nuclear option” to change the Senate’s rules. No, he didn’t get rid of the filibuster. He barred senators from (stay with us) making motions to suspend the rules, a move that allows them to propose and debate on non-germane amendments after a bill has already defeated a filibuster and moved to a final vote. The new rule passed 51-48 along partisan lines, though only after some heated conversations between some Democrats and Reid, Politico reports.

Mitch McConnell had planned to force Democrats to vote on President Obama’s original jobs bill as an amendment to an unrelated bill, to demonstrate how few Democrats would support it with its original tax proposals, the Huffington Post explains. Afterward, McConnell was incensed. “We are fundamentally turning the Senate into the House,” he fumed. Reid said the tactic amounted to a "filibuster by amendment" and was “dilatory and wrong,” but admitted he wasn’t “100% sure” he’d done the right thing. One Republican staffer tells the Hill he’s right to worry. “Just wait until they get into the minority!”