Typically, a nomination can be debated for a maximum of 30 hours on the Senate floor after senators invoke cloture, which is a vote that officially cuts off unlimited debate on a nomination and now only needs a simple majority to occur. But Republicans are mulling cutting short those 30 hours to as brief as two hours for relatively noncontroversial nominees, such as candidates for the district court.
Changing the Senate rules was one of several topics raised during a private Senate Republican retreat held at a conference center at Nationals Park on Thursday. While GOP senators discussed wanting support from Democrats to revise the rules — a process that would take 67 votes — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also raised the prospect of using the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules unilaterally, according to two senators in attendance who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door retreat.
Using the nuclear option means the rules of the Senate are changed with just a simple majority of senators.