Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has a new idea to make it easier to pass legislation: Cut Republicans out of the process.
He’s calling it “filibuster reform,” but it would do away with the minority’s historic rights because they are an inconvenience to the Democrats’ liberal, uncompromising political agenda.
After all, when was the last time Republicans conducted a true filibuster to block, delay, or outright kill a bill? The last person to engage in a genuine filibuster was the ultraliberal Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In 2010, He spoke on the Senate floor for eight hours straight in an attempt to defeat legislation to extend tax rates.
Leader Reid is creating the illusion of a problem to justify drastic, unprecedented action to deprive Republicans of the ability to debate and amend legislation. If successful, the 60-vote threshold for legislation to advance, which assures some degrees of bipartisanship when a party lacks a supermajority, could be reduced to a simple majority.
To cut off a true filibuster, the leader of the Senate may file what’s called “cloture” that requires a 60-vote threshold to enforce. Cloture is intended to shut off a long debate or end a filibuster, such as the one Senator Sanders conducted.
Leader Reid, however, uses cloture as a means of preventing Republicans from amending or debating a bill, long before anyone has even had a chance to discuss it. Because of Leader Reid’s hard-knuckled tactics, Republicans have opposed cloture motions in an attempt to leverage some participation in the legislative process. And this is what Harry Reid misleadingly calls a “filibuster.”
Opposing cloture is not a filibuster, as Senator Reid would like the public to believe.
Endless filibusters have not prevented the Democrat-led Senate from passing a budget over the past three years, preventing the so-called “fiscal cliff,” or taking steps to reduce our $16 trillion and rising debt. Harry Reid has.
Radical actions to take away minority powers will only further polarize the Senate and make it more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground.
The Senate was intended to be the world’s greatest deliberative body. The chamber doesn’t need less debate; it needs more.