Friday, October 7, 2011

A much bigger deal than is being reported

Last night, in order to avoid voting on Obama's jobs bill, Harry Ried changed the rules of the Senate to disallow the introduction of amendments after cloture is invoked. This is an arcane bit of Senate procedure, but the important point to take away from this is that the rules have been changed by a simple majority to prevent the minority from exercising a power they usually possess. This is exactly what I urged the Republican senate to do to allow votes on circuit court judges to pass with a majority, but they were unwilling to do because once Pandora's box is opened the procedure could be used by Democrats in a future Senate. I argued at the time, we now know correctly, that this was irrelevant and Democrats would change the rules as soon as it became convenient.

In light of this, I'd like to propose two changes to the Senate rules for the new Republican majority in 2012:

1) Allow appointments to pass by simple majority. First off, this is extremely politically advantageous, because Republicans tend to accept any judge who is qualified as a matter of training and experience, even if they dislike the positions they take, while Democrats reject any judge whose philosophy they disagree with, so Republican presidents have much more difficulty getting their nominees through the Senate. But secondly, I think the current position is unconstitutional. The Senate can do whatever it wants to its procedures for introducing new legislation, but appointments are an executive power that merely requires Senate "consent". The Senate should not allow itself to withhold consent if the majority of its members agree.

2) Allow any repeal bill to pass with a simple majority. As I stated on my post on Heinlein, giving a power to the government necessarily entails a restriction on personal freedom, and we shouldn't need a super majority to give that freedom back. (This also has convenient side effect that it makes repeal of Obamacare almost guaranteed)