Fox News' Shepard Smith noted that “Republicans will call” reconciliation “the 'nuclear option.' ” But those Republicans are not alone -- The Fox Nation and numerous Fox News personalities have similarly advanced the false claim that reconciliation -- which is part of the Senate rules -- is the “nuclear option,” a term coined by Republicans to describe a GOP proposal to change Senate filibuster rules on judicial nominees.
From the March 2 edition of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith:
SMITH: But what members of your own party have said is that if you go reconciliation -- you know, Republicans will call that the “nuclear option” -- if you do that, you lose the United States House of Representatives in the midterm. Nancy Pelosi has said sometimes it's better to govern and do what the people want. The president has said, “I might have to be a one-term president, but I'm gonna get this done.”
Fox News continues to attempt to redefine “nuclear option”
In its most recent attempt to redefine the meaning of the term “nuclear option,” Fox News seized on a Breitbart-promoted video to falsely accuse Democrats of hypocrisy for considering using the reconciliation process to pass health care reform, when they had previously opposed the “nuclear option.” But, in fact, the nuclear option referred to a Republican proposal to change Senate filibuster rules on judicial nominees and was not related to reconciliation.
The Fox Nation, others at Fox News routinely misuse “nuclear option”
Fox Nation, Fox News personalities routinely invoke the “nuclear option” while discussing reconciliation. The Fox Nation and Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, Bret Baier, Karl Rove, Bill Sammon, Mike Emmanuel, Juan Williams, and Greta Van Susteren have all falsely compared reconciliation to the “nuclear option.” The Fox Nation has also previously coupled its headlines with images of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb:
But “nuclear option” was coined by GOP to describe a process to change Senate filibuster rules
Lott described proposal to change filibuster rules as “nuclear option.” The term “nuclear option” was coined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), one of the leading advocates of the proposal to change the Senate rules on filibusters for judicial nominations. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats. As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.
Reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly
Reconciliation process is part of congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as “part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution.”
Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation to pass former President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 “Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act.” The Senate also used the procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)
Reconciliation has been used to pass major changes to health care laws
Reconciliation has repeatedly been used to reform health care. On February 24, NPR noted that many “major changes to health care laws” have passed via reconciliation. These measures include COBRA, which allows laid-off workers to keep their insurance coverage, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program:
On NPR, Prof. Rosenbaum stated, "[T]he way in which virtually all of health reform ... has happened over the last 30 years has been the reconciliation process." Additionally, during the February 24 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, health policy correspondent Julie Rovner quoted George Washington University professor Sara Rosenbaum saying: “In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process.”