I have heard and read political commentary concerning filibustering and/or the “nuclear option” in the U.S. Senate. The issue involves, primarily, the responsibility of the president to appoint individuals to staffing positions in the senior levels of government. That includes ambassadorial and judicial nominations.

The “nuclear option” involves a ruling from the chairman of the Senate, sustained by a simple majority, to establish that the Constitution requires the Senate to vote “up or down” on every judicial nomination.

Filibustering was used very sparingly in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Since 1992, the Republicans have utilized the filibuster 40 percent more, or nearly double the rate of the Democrats (Congressional filibuster record by party, 1992-2001).

Since President Obama took office, there have been 231 Republican filibusters and there are 190 nominations waiting for confirmation. From 2009 to 2012, there were 241 GOP filibusters and 130 by Democrats.

The Brookings Institution reports that the improper use of the filibuster “has diminished the U.S. Senate as an institution and has weakened the country’s capacity to govern.”

The two parties do not equally share the blame for the dysfunction in Congress. In 2010, the Republican Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, stated, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

I believe that such evidence constitutes a serious argument in favor of reforming the filibuster process in the U.S. Senate.

Ronald Melendy, Auburn

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