Yesterday's Washington Post had an opinion piece by Marc Thiessen, "Harry Reid's Nuclear Blunder" where he criticizes Harry Reid's decision to change the Senate rules with a majority vote to stop the minority from forcing votes on amendments. Thiessen points out that this tactic could also be used to take away the minority's ability to filibuster. I just wish that Reid had done this back in 2009 when it could have made the difference between the weak tea Affordable Health Care Act that the Senate passed in 2010 and a robust law that would have included a public option or allowed medicare to be purchased by those under 65.
Better late than never. I don't know if it will make any difference because the House is determined not to pass anything that would be remotely helpful to the middle class or poor, but at least it demonstrates that the democrats have some backbone, a quality that will be more likely to help them than to hurt them in the 2012 elections.
Republicans could now respond as Democrats threatened to in 2005 — by grinding the Senate to a halt on a range of issues and blocking unanimous consent on even routine matters.
Duh? Isn't that already happening by virtue of a republican controlled House that votes in lockstep to block pretty much anything? Am I missing something here? Is Congress passing some good legislation that I haven't noticed?
He goes on to explain:
Republicans need to pick up just four seats in 2012 to take back the Senate majority.
While Republicans are in a strong position to take control of the Senate, their odds of winning a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority are remote. But now, thanks to Reid, they may not need 60 votes. Reid has established that the majority can ignore the rules in order to gag the minority and declare something dilatory by simple majority vote. This is a filibuster-busting precedent that a Republican majority could use to overcome Democratic opposition on any number of issues — from taxes and spending to revising the debt-limit deal, reversing defense spending cuts and even repealing Obamacare.
So, um, if Harry Reid hadn't taken this step, a potential republican majority would never consider using every possible option to overcome Democratic opposition? Yeah. Right.