So here we are after the election, and we move to policy debates. I know I haven’t blogged in almost a month but I just saw something about Senate rules which really pissed me off. Senate rules change has been a goal of left-wing pressure groups for several years now because the filibuster is one of the GOP’s most useful obstructionist tools. Harry Reid hasn’t been able to overcome the filibuster because current Senate rules require a supermajority (3/5 of Senators) to prevent it.
A lot of people think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington when they hear the word ‘filibuster’. That’s not what we’re talking about. Filibustering isn’t labor intensive, nor is it rare. Many bills die before they can make it to the floor because to bring a bill to the floor you have to vote on the motion to proceed and it’s vulnerable to a filibuster. That’s ridiculous, but even more ridiculous is the actual filibuster. A Senator doesn’t even need to talk anymore to filibuster legislation. It’s called a “silent filibuster”, and it’s all too common. It was all the rage to talk about Senate rules during the healthcare debate, but now it’s back on the table because Harry Reid might take the nuclear option.
Alright, that’s the problem, but here’s what got me writing this post. The GOP is threatening severe backlash to the nuclear option. It’s obvious that there would be backlash, but the thing is that they make it seem like the Democratic majority would be abusing its power, completely disregarding the abuse of minority rights by the Republicans over the last six years.
“If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.” – Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Yeah, that’s politics, but this is out of control. Nothing gets done in the Senate, that’s why rules reform is on the table for the next session of Congress.
I’m sorry but this just got to me. I worked with Fix the Senate Now a bit this past summer, and getting to know the extent to which the Republicans abuse the filibuster has made this a really sore issue for me. Honestly, if you want a clear look at the GOP’s obstruction of government over the last few years, just look into Senate rules and filibustering. Republicans have hijacked the chamber in which they are the minority and made it so nothing can get through. Steven Sloan wrote something about the filibuster this summer which you should really read because it explains the problem quite clearly.
I hope Harry Reid uses the nuclear option. What would happen if he does? We might see the Senate do its job and actually vote or hold debate on something substantial. Oh, the horror.