There are many reasons for dysfunction in Government – greed, corruption, self-interest, stupidity, political ideologies hostile to our founding principles, etc.
But there is only one thing that accounts for the gridlock that seems to prevent anything at all from getting done in Washington, D.C. It is the “Filibuster Rule” of the U.S. Senate.
The authors of the U.S. Constitution had one main objective: the preservation of individual liberty by creating an entirely new blueprint for self-government. This took into account the peculiarities of human nature, which they pondered frequently.
Nearly 230 years down the road, it can certainly be argued that they may have been a tad too optimistic about human nature and the ability of the average human to understand and recognize his own best interests.
It can be argued more forcefully that they, quite naturally, failed to foresee that industrial and technological advances would bring out the worst in human nature.
Those advances would suppress the best, design entirely new ways of creating and wielding political power, and give rise to career politicians.
Their first (and unintentional) mistake was to allow the houses of Congress to make their own rules. At the time, everybody was on the same page and playing by the same general rule for the operation of deliberative, legislative bodies. This was called MAJORITY RULE.
It never occurred to them that the Senate would later use its rulemaking power to change this.
Even though the Constitution specifically requires a “supermajority” for certain things – like impeaching a President or overriding a Presidential Veto – Laws could be enacted or “passed” by a majority vote of members present and voting, provided enough members were present to establish a “Quorum,” which was 50 percent of the membership.
Now, while the Senate could not change this, what they thought they could change – and get away with it – was the rule that governed what they got to vote on.
Here’s the way it works. A “Bill,” which is merely a proposed law written out, may originate in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.
However it gets to the Senate, the first step is “Debate” (which is when the Bill’s supporters and detractors yammer at each other for the cameras, sometimes at excruciating length).
It is during this stage that “Amendments” are proposed and then approved or rejected on a majority vote.
When this stage ends, then the Senators present – provided there are 51 of them – vote “Yea” or “Nay” on the Bill (as it may have been amended), which requires a simple majority for passage.
What the Senate’s Filibuster Rule does is enable a single Senator to prevent Debate from ending, which stops the Senate from voting on the Bill and single-handedly defeats the Bill – UNLESS its proponents number 60 and show up to vote to “end debate.”
So, Republicans do NOT control Congress, as the Main Stream Media never ceases to claim, because they do not CONTROL the Senate. Because of the Filibuster Rule, it takes 60 VOTES to “control the Senate.”
In its earliest form, the Filibuster hardly ever worked, because it required a Senator to hold the floor by actually talking until he fell out or yielded the floor to an accomplice who had to keep talking until he fell out, or yielded the floor to another accomplice… and so on. Now they can just phone it in.
There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about the Filibuster Rule nor anything remotely suggesting that the Senate can effectively require a 60-vote majority to pass a Bill. The 52 Republicans now in the Senate could end the Filibuster Rule TOMORROW – BUT THEY WON’T. WHY, you may ask?
Well, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican “Majority” Leader, says it’s because the move would backfire on Republicans when they are in the Minority. Allowing Chuck Shumer, or any single Democrat, to prevent the Senate from voting on anything important, much less any item on President Trump’s agenda, seems to me a pretty effective way for Republicans to get there.
Republicans may have a limited amount of time to get something done, and they had better do whatever it takes. Harry Reid certainly did. McConnell needs to get religion, or he needs to go! Senate Republicans need to get down and wallow with the pigs to accomplish something, or we are going to have to find someone else.