House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform

House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform
© Greg Nash

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Republicans are pressing Senate colleagues to take a more serious look at amending the upper chamber’s filibuster rule amidst an unresolved budget stalemate that shut the government down last month.

House Budget Committee Chairman Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Deficits to average record .3 trillion over next decade: CBO MORE (R-Ark.) said filibuster reform was discussed at a breakout meeting on government reform with Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) at The Greenbrier resort Thursday.

“There is no question that process reform is going to be the long pole in the tent for what drives my chairmanship because we all know, based on what we’ve been through recently, a three-day shutdown, the process we’re working with right now is a broken process,” Womack said.

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He argued that while the House passed all its regular appropriations bills, the Senate failed to pass any.

“It is a strong opinion on our side of the Capitol … that six months ago House appropriators finished their work in committee, four months ago we got our work done on the floor of the House and nothing happened in the Senate. And we know why,” Womack said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE has pressed Senate Republicans repeatedly to change the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass controversial legislation through the upper chamber.

He raised the issue again during the three-day government shutdown last month. Democrats blocked a month-long spending measure because it did not include language to protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.

“The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, not C.R.’s!” he tweeted.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Federal Reserve official: Further coronavirus stimulus bill may not be needed How governments around the world are passing laws amid the coronavirus crisis Stephen Moore: We're facing another 'Great Depression' MORE (R-Ky.) has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s demands for filibuster reform but the proposition has more support among recently elected GOP senators.

“If the Democrats continue to demonstrate a willingness to totally gridlock the funding of the military, I think senators on our side are going to be looking at alternatives,” said Perdue.

“I think there’s a growing awareness on our side that it may be time to have a serious debate about that unless Democrats get serious about funding our military,” he added.

Perdue said House lawmakers vented their frustrations with the Senate during the government reform breakout session.

He said in the last 44 years, the Senate on average has passed only two-and-a-half of the 12 regular spending bills it is supposed to approve every year.

Reform-minded lawmakers are circling around a pared-down proposal that would eliminate the filibuster for spending bills, something House Republicans pushed when Democrats controlled the Senate under former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP embraces big stimulus after years of decrying it Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate Winners and losers from Super Tuesday MORE (D-Nev.).

But this raises the question of whether it would become too easy to pass major policy changes by adding them to spending bills.

“The only thing I want to say about that, is the fact that for far too long the Appropriations Committee has had to deal with authorization matters in its appropriations bills,” Womack noted.