The first year of Republican-controlled federal government in a decade saw a great tax reform bill and a lot of positive actions on the regulatory and administrative fronts, but the promise of the 2016 election was squandered on basically every other legislative front. Because current Senate filibuster rules require a supermajority for most ordinary legislation, the long-promised repeal of Obamacare ultimately collapsed on the runway, and countless other conservative agenda items haven’t even been brought up for consideration. And now, one senator has had enough
The Washington Examiner reports that on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the paper that he believes it’s time to end the legislative filibuster for good.
“As recently as even a couple years ago, if you had asked me, ‘Should we get rid of it?’ I would have said ‘no,’ because it slows down the growth of government,” Cruz said. “That is no longer my view.” He went on to explain why the comedy of errors that is the current Congress has convinced him it’s got to go, why the GOP has nothing to gain by preserving it, and why he laments that it’s still not going to happen anytime soon:
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“There is nothing in the history of the Senate remotely like what we’re facing right now, which is the filibuster being used on everything,” Cruz said in explaining his changing view of the filibuster. “Their base, the hard radical Left, is demanding ‘Fight! Resist!’ And so, every substantive piece of legislation — virtually every one — gets filibustered” […]
“I think if the Democrats ever regain the majority, they’ll end legislative filibuster,” Cruz predicted. “That’s where their conference is. And it doesn’t make any sense for it be a one-way ratchet — for us to have our hands tied and for them to be able to pass with a simple majority” […]
Cruz acknowledges, “Although I support [getting rid of the legislative filibuster] and we’re actually having more and more serious conversations within the conference about it, and there is more support for doing it, at this point, we’re nowhere close to having 50 votes to do it.”
President Donald Trump has also tweeted his support for eliminating the filibuster at various points throughout the past year, but hasn’t kept his attention span on the matter long enough to spur a major debate about it. That’s been the problem across the board — many conservative voices and some Republican lawmakers grumble about it from time to time, but nobody has put in the time or effort to mount a serious campaign to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and moderate Republicans on it.
A total abolition of the legislative filibuster — something nowhere to be found in the Constitution — would be ideal, but as Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz pointed out earlier this week, there are other ways to at least reform the rules to keep them from being exploited as a minority veto of whatever ordinary legislation they want:
– Force a talking filibuster, or at least enforce the two-speech rule, which would essentially limit the days a filibuster could go on.
– End filibusters for budget bills, at least after a funding lapse has taken place.
– Curtail or end the filibuster for appropriation bills.
– Limit the number of filibusters per party per year.
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Unless we do something about this, we’re just going to keep continuing the kabuki theater of GOP leaders wasting everybody’s time and passion by scheduling votes on bills they’ve simultaneously made sure can’t get enough votes to reach the White House for a signature:
There are only 7 countries left that still permit elective abortion after 20 weeks—including the US, China, and North Korea. That’s why the #Senate will soon vote to take up commonsense legislation to protect unborn children who can feel pain.
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) January 25, 2018
To be sure, the 60-vote rule isn’t the only thing tying conservatives’ hands — McConnell and Paul Ryan should have been replaced with more effective and conservative leaders years ago, and a handful of moderate/liberal Republican senators desperately need to be primaried. But if we don’t want Trump’s presidency to go to waste, this is where we have to start.