November 30, 2012
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is changing the filibuster process, dubbing it “filibuster reform,” in order to shut out the voices of the minority party.
Reid’s “filibuster reform” would “allow less time for deliberation on legislation and nominations for Senators, meaning less time for the American public to view that deliberation,” The Heritage Foundation’s Brian Darling reports.
In addition, Darling explains, in trying to “squelch the rights of individual members of the U.S. Senate…Reid has to ignore the letter of the rules to ‘reform’ them with a simple-majority party-line vote.”
Conservatives may be able to use Reid’s plan to their advantage. Darling explains:
What Reid is trying to do is wrong, yet the only way for conservatives to fight back is to engage the fight. If Reid is going to push the theory that until the Senate operates under the rules, there are no rules, then he has provided an unprecedented opportunity for conservatives to push some real Senate rules reform ideas. If there are no rules, then Reid can’t stop conservatives from offering a never-ending stream of rules change ideas for the Senate to cast votes on.
Darling offers some examples of rules that Senate conservatives should work to change to ensure a better-functioning legislative system:
- A new two-thirds point of order against any infringement on the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. This would be subject to a simple majority vote under Reid’s theory. There is a pro-gun majority in the Senate today, and this might actually pass. It would be a great tool for conservatives to forever block reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in addition to any other gun-grabbing ideas.
- A new two-thirds point of order against any net tax increase on the American people as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. This would be subject to a simple majority vote and is part of the Senate version of the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution supported by all members of the current Republican caucus.
- A new point of order preventing the Senate Majority Leader from blocking amendments by filling up all the areas of the amendment tree with pro-forma amendments. Reid has used this tactic to prevent members from offering amendments. A new point of order should be proposed to prevent that tactic for Reid or any future Majority Leader.
- A new point of order to make Senators sign a consent form before a bill is passed by “Unanimous Consent” or “UC.” Many times, the Senate operates by waiving the rules with the consent of all Senators. Many times the bills passed are opposed by members, but they fear getting blamed for obstructing bills by forcing the Senate to abide by all the rules to pass a bill or confirm a nomination. This would put all members explicitly on the record supporting legislation that sneaks through the Senate under the radar.
Do you think Harry Reid is right to push for “filibuster reform”?