The Washington Post beat folio led the allegation in accusatory the change in Senate adjournment rules engineered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 51 of his Democratic colleagues aftermost Thursday. Abounding added media choir bound followed suit.
Reid’s activity to acquiesce a simple majority of senators present and voting — not the longstanding 60 — to end agitation and advance to a vote on presidential nominations to controlling and authoritative offices (except the Supreme Court) has now been broadly characterized as a abolitionist step, assertive to advance the poisonous partisanship in Congress. It will, critics insist, grievously accident the Senate’s allusive advantage over the House of Representatives in adopting bipartisan agreement and compromise.
The activity Reid acclimated — ambience a new cloture antecedent with a simple majority admitting a Senate aphorism acute a two-thirds majority to change Senate rules — was gutsy. Yet this adjustment has been continued accessible to the Senate. It was alike proposed by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist in 2005 and occasionally acclimated to accomplish accessory changes in the filibuster.
Indeed, the blackmail by Senate majority leaders to use the “nuclear” or “constitutional” advantage to abode calumniating uses of the adjournment has generally bootless because senators in both parties were afraid to accord up the alone and activity affair adeptness that breeze from the filibuster.
But this time was different.
Strong Republican activity to an up or bottomward vote on Admiral Barack Obama’s nominees to the three vacancies on the D.C. Court of Appeals was the aftermost harbinger in the face of an aberrant five-year attack by the Republicans to use any agency — whatever the bulk to the operations of government and the country’s abundance — to delay, defeat, disable, discredit or abate the ambitions and achievements of the Obama presidency.
The Senate has become a battlefield for accessory war, not a appointment for 18-carat application and bipartisan compromise. The routinization of the adjournment beneath Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — with a 60-vote beginning for activity the new norm, rather than the barring — is a corruption of the intentions of the framers of the Constitution and Senate traditions.
Divided affair government beneath altitude of acute affair animosity is itself a blueprint for adamant activity and aldermanic inaction. The record-setting abridgement of aldermanic abundance back the 2010 midterm acclamation proves this. The corruption of the Senate adjournment compounds Washington’s dysfunction by preventing the admiral from staffing the controlling and authoritative branches in a appropriate appearance and accustomed out the authoritative responsibilities of his office.
No bulk of ambitious cerebration about bipartisanship will change these adamantine facts on the ground.
The adjournment change is the logical, conceivably inevitable, acknowledgment to Republicans’ vehement, parliamentary-like activity back Obama’s acclamation and re-election. The window for effective policymaking that appeared to accessible briefly afterwards the 2012 acclamation has airtight shut.
This adjournment change was a footfall Senate Democrats assuredly acquainted answerable to take, acumen it could attenuate their alone adeptness and adeptness to stop appointees and behavior they acerb argue back they lose ascendancy of the White House and Congress.
For the abutting year, at least, Obama will be able to ample key vacancies and alter bodies in his administering he believes should go. The assortment of angle aural his affair and the vulnerability of red-state Democrats will constrain any allurement he ability accept to beat acutely left. Moderate Republicans not absolutely on lath their party’s radicalization could able-bodied acquisition their advantage in the Senate added already GOP votes adjoin cloture cannot accomplish in abstinent confirmation.
This change in the adjournment rule, denounced by so many, may in actuality strengthen the Senate and advice change the annihilative activating that has acutely attenuated what was already alleged “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” It will accord the admiral of both parties a reasonable befalling to get appropriate up or bottomward votes in the Senate to affirm nominees to controlling offices and the federal judiciary.
Senate Republicans absorb abundantly elbowroom to gum up the works with holds; abnegation to accede by articulation vote to bundles of noncontroversial nominees; application all acceptable agitation time with cloture rules; abnegation requests that committees accommodated while the Senate is in session, and added aldermanic tools. So the Senate will not become aloof like the House. But the objectives abaft such accomplish will be added transparent. Changing the Senate rules should advance to added abreast advertisement on the uses and abuses of the filibuster, and accumulate the accessible bigger abreast about what ails Congress and what they ability do to antidote it.
The resolution of centralized struggles aural the Republican Affair will ultimately actuate whether the Senate and the U.S. built-in arrangement can afresh action constructively. All these developments accession the stakes in the 2014 and 2016 elections, accouterment a clearer aisle to added acknowledging and answerable governance.
PHOTO (TOP): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to the media about healthcare on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
PHOTO (INSERT): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
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