Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) visited The Heritage Foundation Tuesday to underscore the importance and tradition of Senate rules and warn against the blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to rewrite the rules using the “nuclear option.”
“Really, this is a question about whether the Senate continues to play the role that the Senate has always played in our system—we don’t have a parliamentary system—we have a unique creature we created all on our own and both the House and Senate have a purpose,” Blunt said at Heritage’s weekly Bloggers Briefing.
That purpose is to provide a steadying force in political waters, balancing the immediacy and responsiveness of the House with the more deliberative nature of the Senate.
Blunt served in the House for 14 years in a variety of leadership positions, including majority whip and interim majority leader. “I like the House. The majority rules. The House is very responsive to the last election,” Blunt said.
In contrast, Blunt emphasized the role of the Senate as a deliberative body.
“[It’s] the place where you say, ‘We’re going to think about this,’ and it takes more than one election, normally, to make a big change in the Senate,” he said.
“They [Democrats] will have to first break the rules to change the rules,” Blunt said, referring to attempts by the majority party to prevent Senate deliberation on Republican amendments.
Blunt explained that Democrats could ignore Senate parliamentarian rulings for a two-thirds vote required for changing the procedural rules in the legislative body.
“The rules of the Senate are still adequate for the Senate to do its job. It’s just that you need to follow the rules of the Senate,” Blunt argued. A change in the rules now could mean further changes to how the Senate votes, including moving the requirement for most measures, confirmations, or other Senate business to just a simple majority.
“You don’t have any of the restraint in the system that the Senate constitutionally has provided since the House and Senate both began to function,” Blunt concluded.