GOP lawmaker: Senate should invoke 'nuclear option' for DHS
© Greg Nash

Immigration hardliner Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong GOP lawmaker pushes to end sports leagues' tax-exempt status Rep. Mo Brooks: We should end federal government support to NFL MORE (R-Ala.) suggested Wednesday that the Senate change its long-standing rules in order to pass a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security while simultaneously revoking President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

Brooks urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change Senate rules so that spending bills only need a simple majority to advance instead of 60.

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The Senate voted three times last week to proceed to the House-passed DHS funding bill with the language to freeze President Obama's immigration actions, but fell short of the necessary 60 votes due to Democratic opposition.

Brooks suggested that McConnell follow in the footsteps of now-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who invoked the "nuclear option" in 2013 during his tenure as majority leader to eliminate filibusters for most executive nominees. 

McConnell said this week that it's "obviously" up to the House to make the next move on DHS funding, as the bill cannot move through the Senate. But Brooks had another idea.

"There's another option. Let's think back for a moment. And let's look at Harry Reid, when he was Senate majority leader and the power that he wielded," Brooks said in a House floor speech. "He said, 'I'm not going to let the filibuster stop me from achieving my political goals.'

"Well if Harry Reid and the Democrats can do that, if they can stand up for their beliefs however wrong those beliefs may be, then where is our Republican Senate leadership? And why aren't they doing the same thing?" Brooks said.

Brooks suggested that the Senate GOP eliminate filibusters for spending bills.

"Why don't they do the same thing with respect to bills that we have to pass to prevent government shutdowns? Bills dealing with spending matters, say only 51 votes is needed," Brooks said. "No longer can a minority with a filibuster shut down the United States government."

Brooks argued that the GOP's pledge to aggressively challenge President Obama's executive actions on immigration merited something as dramatic as a Senate rules change.

"I would submit that it's time for the United States Senate to change their rules, to reflect the will of the American people. And certainly if those rules can be changed for mere appointments by the president, they can also be changed to protect the United States Constitution and the separation of powers," Brooks said.

Brooks's suggestion came hours after two Republican senators, Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), spoke to the House GOP conference to reiterate the limits of the Senate in passing the DHS funding bill.