IT’S TIME TO END THE FILIBUSTER IN THE US SENATE
The news media have focused our attention on the failure of the Senate to pass a third, short-term Continuing Resolution to fund the US Government in Fiscal Year 2018 until mid-February. All but five Democrats voted “no” on the motion to end debate. Failing to obtain 60 “yes” votes to end debate means no vote on the funding bill itself can take place until debate has ended. The tactics (and the hypocrisy) of the Senate Democrats are more than shameful; they are calculated to gain support from the perpetually outraged left and to pander to communities of recent immigrants at the expense of the American People.
What seems missing in the media discussion is the failure of the Congress to pass appropriation bills. Resort to continuing resolutions is a demonstration of failure. It is time to step back from the tactical skirmishing and see the bigger picture. The House of Representatives passed a budget bill and 13 appropriation bills to fund the government for fiscal year 2018 in time for the Senate to do the same. Eight of 13 appropriation bills were reported out of their respective committees in time for the Senate to pass them before the start of the fiscal year in October. No bill was brought before the Senate for a vote however, because the Democrats announced their filibusters.
There is a growing chorus of voices demanding the filibuster be abolished and that the Senate enact limitations on debate similar to the rules of the House of Representatives. The so-called “nuclear option” would allow any majority of 51 votes to enact any bill. Sounds good at the moment when the Senate is in the hands (but only barely) of the Republicans.
The “nuclear option” was adopted by the Senate Democrats during the Obama administration to limit filibusters against nominations to the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal. That has worked to President Trump’s advantage to get his nominees approved by the Republican majority. Shudder to think what would happen if two Republican seats were captured by Democrats.
There is a way to curtail the filibuster without invoking the “nuclear option.” The Senate used to require members to actually go to the floor and speak in order to conduct a filibuster. Now they can simply send a note objecting to a vote without leaving their desks. I call that phoning in the filibuster. If you want to conduct a filibuster, do it the old-fashioned way. Go to the Senate and speak. Hold the floor as long as you can and demonstrate commitment to an outcome. If you can’t marshall enough energy or support to conduct a filibuster, then the matter under debate will come to a vote.
The Senate is not getting its job done. Republicans can’t expect success at the polls in November if the Republican majorities in the Congress fail to deliver results. Blaming Democrat obstructionists will not work. It is time to fix the filibuster rule in the Senate and pass legislation.
Chairman David Zucker
January 22, 2018