Scott Walker on Saturday night said that if it were necessary to repeal President Obama's healthcare law, he would urge Republican senators to use the so-called nuclear option to end the filibuster.
After formal remarks at the Western Conservative Summit, Walker sat down with talk radio host and author Hugh Hewitt for an onstage interview.
"I heard you say Obamacare will be repealed and replaced," Hewitt said. "There are a lot of Republican senators who love the filibuster. Rick Santorum told me you don't need to break the filibuster to repeal Obamacare. But if it's necessary to do so, will you urge your Republican colleagues to invoke the Harry Reid rule that he used last year that he used to break the filibuster to repeal Obamacare root and branch?"
Walker responded: "Yes. Absolutely."
In 2013, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used a parliamentary maneuver to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive branch appointments could be confirmed by a simple majority rather than the 60 votes required to end the filibuster.
But the filibuster was preserved for Supreme Court nominees and legislation.
Traditionally, Republicans have been reluctant to completely blow up the filibuster, fearing that when Democrats eventually regain power, they'd be able to use simple majority votes to effortlessly pass their agenda to expand the size and scope of government.
Instead of ending the filibuster, Republicans have talked about using a procedure known as reconciliation to repeal Obamacare. The reconciliation procedure is intended to be used to pass budgets with simple majorities, though it was used to pass parts of Obamacare to help secure final passage. The quirks of that procedure, however, mean that it cannot be used on provisions that have only indirect budgetary effects (such as regulatory changes). That means it's unlikely that all of Obamacare could be repealed this way.
That could leave nuking the filibuster as the only option to get a repeal bill through the Senate, unless Republicans could secure 60 seats or convince some Democrats to vote for repeal.