OPINION | Senate must end the tyranny of the minority and abolish the filibuster
© Greg Nash

ObamaCare is the public policy equivalent of the Hindenburg, and the U.S. Senate has now failed to pass even the feeblest effort to repeal it. 

President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE is exactly right. It is time for America to abolish the 60-vote Senate rule that forced the healthcare bill into the once-a-budget-year “reconciliation process” controlled by the “Byrd” rule which does not allow room for broad, lateral negotiation and subject matter inclusion that are so critical to achieving 50 percent plus one in a parliamentary setting. Did you know that ObamaCare could never have been repealed and replaced within the confines of the present Byrd rule? Did anyone but senators?

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Mr. Trump is extremely astute to recognize the ‘senseless 60,’ Senate rule to be the primary culprit responsible for turning the U.S. Senate into the fundamentally dysfunctional institution it has become.

Perhaps the president was paying attention in the last election cycle when then Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) said (when he was assuming Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts Clapper: Trump was serious when he said he wants citizens to act like North Koreans do for Kim Hillary Clinton: Fundamental rights are 'under assault like never before' MORE would become president and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDonald Trump Jr. headlines Montana Republican convention Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points MORE (D-N.Y.) would become majority leader): “The country can’t be run this way, where nothing gets done.” … “Unless after this election there is a dramatic change to go back to the way it used to be” (before the “no-debate stealth filibuster”) “the Senate will have to evolve as it has in the past” … “But it will evolve with a majority vote determining stuff. It is going to happen” (emphasis mine), meaning that the majority, not 60 votes, would rule.

After such unequivocal statements, to predicate America’s future on the hope that Democrats will suddenly be seized with an epiphany of fair play toward Republicans and not follow through with Mr. Reid’s plan when given the chance, is to risk the survival of this republic on a hope that has never manifest in the past.

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 22, warned posterity that a supermajority construct in parliamentary settings, except in the rarest of circumstances (i.e. amending the Constitution), would mean that “smaller numbers will overrule the greater…and destroy the energy of government”.

The “energy of government” has now indeed been devastated by the modern rules in the U.S. Senate where the once rare practice of requiring the 60-vote rule on the motion-to-proceed to consider (allowing a bill to be brought to the Senate floor for debate and amendment), has became the norm.  Its usage is up 3,600 percent

This rule has become especially fatal to an accountable appropriations process (with profound implications for the Article One Constitutional Power of the Purse). It robs those who would rein in government spending of a fair playing field and the continued chaos, lack of clarity and relentless deficits will inexorably march America into bankruptcy.

It seems now to have truly now dawned on the president (as it should the rest of us) that the present application of Senate rules will fundamentally decimate his entire legislative agenda and ultimately turn government back over to the Democrats who will then not hesitate to dispatch the Senate legislative filibuster. Perhaps the president is committed to giving America at least a glimpse of Republican policy before that happens.

Ironically, if we are paying attention at all, the principled debate on this issue is really over. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court proved the present Senate rules are now unsustainable in this ultra-polarized environment.

All of the Republican senators who said they would never change the filibuster for nominees should honestly admit to themselves and explain to all of us why every last one of them voted to do exactly that. The honest answer is really quite obvious. Republican senators knew what would happen if they told the American people that their elitist Senate rules simply did not allow Neil Gorsuch, perhaps the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in the last century, to even receive an up-or-down vote; even after voters had elected Donald Trump to save the Court and the Constitution more than any other single reason. Republican senators knew that the anti-deliberation filibuster, or what Heather Higgins has called the “Senatorial Full Employment Through Avoiding Tough Votes Maneuver” would then finally be exposed to the world for what it is.

America is $20 trillion in debt and approaching a sovereign debt crisis. We seem helpless to step back from the brink of socialized medicine. The federal bureaucracy is out of control. The very foundations of the nation continue to be stained by the blood of over a million of its own preborn children every year. The leading sponsor of terrorism in the world is on track to legally gain nuclear weapons. Our military and the nation’s place in the world in general have been devastated by the Obama years.

Is preserving a tyranny that, when voting on a bill, the minority in the Senate is empowered to obstruct the combined will of a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, the President of the United States and a national election, is more important than our desperate need and ability as a nation to address these critical issues when now may be the only chance we ever have? Really??

Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPolitical figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer Charles Krauthammer dies at the age of 68 Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE…Please…for the sake of this and future American generations….. Tear down this wall!…

Congressman Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE represents the 8th District of Arizona and is Past Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.