CNN and Fox News faced off today over the definition of the term nuclear option as it relates to healthcare. FNC claims that reconciliation is the nuclear option, while CNN explained that a simple majority of 51 votes is not a nuclear option. CNN is correct. The nuclear option is a Senate procedural move to end a filibuster.
Here is the FNC video from Media Matters:
Anchor Bill Hemmer said, “Democratic congressional leaders now considering a nuclear option to pass the most controversial parts of the reform package. That nuclear option by the way means that the Democratically controlled Senate can force through government run insurance with only 51 votes, a simple majority, forcing approval of a plan rejected by Republicans, a good number of Democrats, and a growing number of Americans based on polling.”
CNN’s Josh Levs delivered a little bit of School House Rock courtesy of Media Matters:
Levs was asked if this was the nuclear option. He answered, “It’s actually not. Right, we’ve heard the “nuclear option” term used, and that was used in the context of trying to get through some judicial nominees against a filibuster. In a way, it’s a similar concept, but we’re not talking about that term here. That’s not the term that we’re — that’s being used. Instead, it’s about this specific thing, a reconciliation that got inside that 2010 budget.”
The term nuclear option was coined by Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005, so it is interesting that Republicans would now attempt to redefine their own term and apply it healthcare reform. This is more misinformation by Fox News. It is no surprise that millions of people are so grossly uninformed about our legislative process, when many of them are getting their information from the Fox News Channel.