The Republicans hold 52 seats in the U.S. Senate vs. 48 for the Democrats but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) warns that the Senate will filibuster in order to block anything originated by Republicans from passing. An article today by Betsy McCaughey discusses the rules of the Senate and points out the history of that rule.
Sen. Schumer has indicated that he will invoke the 60-vote rule in order to keep the floor and quash any Republican-originated bills. In this case, the Democrats would hold the floor through endless filibustering unless and until the Republicans were able to turn 8 Democrats away from that process to gain 6o votes.
That paralyzation of the Senate, however, seems to fly in the face of historical fact according to McCaughey. In 1975 the Senate modified the filibuster rule making it possible for debate to be closed with the magical 60 vote super-majority. That spelled the end to the need for endless filibustering if 60 votes could be found to do so.
This “tool” has worked for both sides. The Republicans used it during President Obama’s first term and killed pro-union legislation, gun control, and a federal minimum wage increase according to McCaughey. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) has a good memory and seeks retribution, thus the threat to deny the vote unless Republicans can find 8 Democrat votes which would seem quite unlikely especially given the political climate now with the Electoral College vote enabling President Trump to take office with about a 3 million popular vote shortfall; perfectly in accordance with the Constitution but just another excuse for opposition politicians to slow-walk anything and everything.
The framers of the Constitution cited five situations where a super-majority of 60 votes was required: 1 – convicting an impeached president or other high officer, 2 – amending the Constitution, 3 – ratifying a treaty, 4 – overturning a presidential veto, and 5 – expelling a member of Congress.
Seems we should have a functioning Senate except for the petty and childish politicians who seem to think they’re wiser than the framers of this cherished document. Tit-for-tat has been the way in politics but that really is a disservice to us voters since it essentially cancels out the majority to the benefit of the minority when it is being used for other than these five needs originally cited.
Whether it is done by Republicans or done by Democrats is really not the heart of this issue. This seems unconstitutional and therefore illegal but has been permitted. There ought to be firm rules that cannot be over-ridden in such a callous, crass political manner.
But, given the state of political discourse today, reaching some conclusion that would give the political edge to the opposite party seems a virtual impossibility even though the voters express their will over and over again.
It is way past time for our government, both Democrats and Republicans, to return to the Constitution to determine how we are to be governed. We the people deserve nothing less, and we really ought to be demanding that which is what we expect from those people we placed in office. There is a phrase that describes politicians and petty politicians. The politicians we revere were not, at least to my knowledge, what I’d describe as petty politicians. There are also politicians that remind me of the earlier caricatures of people like a Boss Tweed.
Maybe term limits would be something to consider. Career politicians seem too often to come to think it is always about them; they forget or simply disregard that it really is about us. How about two six-year terms for Senators and no more than four two-year terms for members of the House of Representatives. We have a two-term limit for Presidents. Limits would, hopefully, help these elected officials remember that they are citizens just like us and that they’ll be coming back to their home states and to their hometowns other than just to campaign.
I suspect that, if there were more interaction with constituents back in hometowns, there might be less forgetfulness about who we are and what we want from our elected officials. Too much separation is not good for either the official or the voter.
I see the Harry Reids and the Chuck Schumers, and I long for another Ronald Reagan. I long for a person who is not so full of self as to forget who put them in their positions. Who are not so full of self as to begin thinking they can actually walk on water. So far, Donald Trump has been a real breath of fresh air even with his idiosyncracies. He is anything but the typical politician and that is likely why we put him in office.