CNN and Fox News Duel over the Healthcare Nuclear Option


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.

5 Replies to “CNN and Fox News Duel over the Healthcare Nuclear Option”

  1. This is one heck of a stupid and unimportant debate. Whether called “nuclear option” (which apparently was coined to describe the ill fated misguided attempt by some Republicans to change Senate Rules on judicial nominees by suspending filibuster rules) or budget reconciliation, where filibuster rules do not apply–its the SAME THING

    No wonder there can not be an intelligent debate about health care or anything else.

  2. The argument is one of semantics. It is the same damn thing. It takes away the right of the minority to filibuster.

  3. It’s really not the same thing. They are two different legal maneuvers, which are used in very different circumstances with different effects. The Lott Nuclear Option from 2005, if used only once, would permanently change the rules of the Senate by making a determination on the floor of the Senate that the filibuster is unconstitutional. Reconciliation, on the other hand, would simply use a statutory rule in place since the ’70’s to pass legislation. While it may be stretching the bounds of that rule, it is MUCH less abrasive than the nuclear option and certainly should not be called that.

  4. I agree, the argument is simply over the word choice to describe a single action… It’s stupid because the action remains the same regardless of the word. Aside from that, I’m a college student who just took a political science class last semester and my professor introduced us to the term “reconciliation” and explained that this was also known as the “nuclear option”. So, it’s not impossible he’s incorrect, but I’m going to have to go with what I learned in a my higher educational institution over what I read by any reporter, on any news station or website.

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