When then-Senator Trent Lott first used the term “nuclear option” in 2003 – to refer to using the speaker of the Senate to change or bend the rules to effectively shut down the filibuster option – it was 40 years since Dr. Strangelove had been released. The nuclear threat – still present of course – was less of an immediate danger and more of a metaphor. So it was handy for a senator looking to make a point. Unlike 1963 when the Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in everyone’s mind.

And now, a little over 50 years since that film, it appears that Ted Cruz wants to make it clear that he’s no Slim Pickens riding the bomb onto the senate floor. That is, Ted Cruz believes that the nuclear option is not necessary when it comes to battling to repealing Obamacare. He would rather go for the funding, or more accurately, he has fought for de-funding in the past in an attempt to stop the healthcare plan put in place by Obama’s administration. He has accused his GOP Senate colleagues back in late 2013 of bombing their own troops to use another wartime metaphor. Ted also fought back against House Republicans when they accused him of giving up the fight against the Affordable Care Act. And throwing the responsibility for defunding Obamacare back to them. He insisted that senate procedural rules meant that then-majority leader Reid only needed 60 votes to end the debate and strip the amendment defunding Obamacare from the bill.

Could the freshman senator have rounded up enough GOP votes in the fall of 2013 on the senate floor? Who knows? Will Senate Majority leader McConnell eventually pay for what went down in the fall of 2013? Right now it seems to be Cruz who has to explain and point back at what he fought for, and convince people why his tactics were right. The battle over how to try and block Harry Reid from stripping the de-funding provisions from the bill that the House brought to the Senate shows how important procedure really is in the upper chamber. And how far legislators have come from the original founding father’s vision of the Senate’s role as a place of “advice and consent.” But for legislators in both chambers, procedure is and has been for some time, a matter of political life and death. Is Obamacare in danger of becoming the third rail of GOP politics? Let us hope not. Because every GOP candidate will have to touch the issue, and will have to do so convincingly. And should be allowed to do so as they see fit.


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