Opinion

Senate Considering Blowing Up the Remainder of Its Rules

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Posted: Apr 03, 2019 10:10 AM
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Senate Considering Blowing Up the Remainder of Its Rules

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

I've been around the legislative process for 44 years. And if you think the socialist ideas flowing through the little head of Bronx Congresswoman AOC are new, I can assure you they're not.

Socialism and Third-World-level repression have been on the verge of enactment since I came to the Senate staff in 1975. And, almost always, it was the Senate GOP which stopped the massive gun bans, prevented abortion-on-demand, killed environmental legislation to outlaw most cars, blocked regulatory agencies which would have effectively shut down private industry, stymied massive new tax proposals, killed election rules that would have prevented Republicans from ever winning control again -- and would have regulated political discourse by criminally pursuing conservatives and GOP candidates. And this is just the beginning of hundreds of draconian socialist proposals which could have become law -- but didn't.

And the one thing which has stopped virtually all of them from being enacted into law is the Legislative Filibuster in the Senate.

So it is with some alarm that those of us with long, long legislative experience view serious proposals by GOP senators to blow up the legislative filibuster.

This would be done to facilitate the passage of the Blunt-Lankford resolution to reduce post-cloture debate time on non-Cabinet nominations from 30 hours to two hours -- even though the proposal lacks the necessary 67 votes to achieve cloture. Republicans have backed away from using the legislative calendar to pass this rules change and have pivoted to using a procedural maneuver on the executive calendar that is just as insidious.

But the problem is that the Blunt-Lankford resolution is a LEGISLATIVE measure on the LEGISLATIVE calendar and subject to Senate rules governing legislation. If Senators implement this resolution using a point of order or some other procedural tactic it is just as much of a problem for the future of the legislative filibuster, because it sets a precedent that you can use precedent to modify the rules without using regular order.

Although most of us thought Reid's "nuclear option" on nominations in November, 2013, was a slippery slope, Senate institutionalists have thus far prevented it from bleeding into the legislative realm.

I think most of us commiserate with the need to drag nominees through 30 hours of post-cloture "debate" under the current rules. And, although Republicans could have used the same stalling tactics against Democrats in December, 2013, but didn't care enough to do so.

But the question is whether this admittedly significant inconvenience to the Senate is worth the cost of passing the entire Democratic agenda of gun control, abortion, Big Government, and election fraud the next time the Democrats take control of the institution.

Take into consideration that this may be as early as January, 2021.

I would submit that it isn't.

Will the Democrats abolish the filibuster anyway, the next time they have a chance? Well, some of them are certainly talking about it. In the past, however, there have been a handful of Democrats and Republicans who loved the institution sufficiently to stand on principle when the filibuster was at stake. And it would be a mistake to shoot ourselves in the head because of a fear that someone else may eventually do it for us.

So for those senators thinking of administering a death blow to the legislative filibuster -- or engaging in a similar procedure where they fraudulently appeal the ruling of the Chair on a point of order -- I would ask them to stop and consider what they're doing.

The Senate has been around a long time. And while it hasn't always worked perfectly for Republicans, it has, more than any other body in Washington, stopped the U.S. from becoming Venezuela.