House Republicans have an idea to circumvent Senate Democrats’ filibuster over the Iran deal: Use the nuclear option. 

The so-called “nuclear option” would allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change Senate rules so that only a simple majority would be necessary to move a resolution rejecting the Iran deal forward.

Senate Democrats last week deprived the GOP of the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster. The Senate is expected to take a re-vote later Tuesday with a similar result.


In a letter delivered to McConnell on Tuesday, Rep. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) said the gravity of the international accord to curtail Iran’s nuclear arsenal merited drastic action.

“National security is too important to be held hostage by partisan obstructionists who won’t even allow a debate on the issue. I urge you to use your constitutional authority to break the filibuster and move forward with debate and a vote on the Iran nuclear deal,” Buchanan wrote.

There is recent precedent for such a move. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2013 overturned chamber rules to require only a simple majority to advance most nominations after encountering multiple filibusters from Republicans while he served as majority leader.

It’s not the first time House Republicans have called on McConnell to change decades of Senate precedent to advance their legislative priorities. 

Multiple conservatives earlier this year urged invoking the nuclear option so the Senate could pass a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that blocked President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

And as recently as last week, some GOP lawmakers suggested McConnell change Senate rules in order to pass both a measure rejecting the Iran deal and a government spending bill that withholds funds for Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial undercover videos on the use of fetal tissue donations.

“Mitch [McConnell] is going to have to wake up and figure out that at some point there may be some more important things than some 40-year-old Senate rules,” Rep. Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw White House mulling restoring daily press briefing with Sanders replacement: report MORE (R-S.C.) said last week at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

“They could change their rules and get past that 60-vote threshold. Then the votes are there, I think,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) added at the same event.

Even if both chambers could pass a bill to avert a government shutdown with provisions to defund Planned Parenthood, President Obama would likely still veto it. The same would apply with a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal. 

But that isn’t stopping some conservatives from wanting to do away with the filibuster.

“So we’re going to make every decision we make here in Congress based on whether the president’s going to sign the legislation or not? That’s not our job,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).