Going Nuclear

It is clear to me that there are two options the Democrats have to operate on. The first option is the route that they have been going on — propose legislation and have the Republicans (along with a few who might as well be Republicans) threaten to filibuster. This forces every piece to have sixty votes in place just to bring it to an actual vote. Because of this, the Democrats are forced to give up many of the key proposals they were put into office for in exchange for the right to vote on something.

By the time something like the Health Care Reform legislation gets to that point where sixty people give their permission to even vote, it is NOTHING like what was originally proposed. In the case of the HCR bill, what started out to rein in out of control health insurance costs by providing competition and affordable health care to everyone, has turned into exactly the opposite, thanks to the abuse of a wholly undemocratic and antiquated procedure known as the filibuster.

It is time we did away with the filibuster.

Yeah, I know, some day the Republicans will have control of the Senate and if there isn’t a filibuster in the toolbox, they can pass some chunk of legislation that we don’t like with a simple majority.

But wait a minute… Why, that’s democracy! If one side has just one more vote than the other side — they win. It seems a lot better than what we currently have now, with one side completely abusing the process. It has become the tyranny of the minority.

If Democrats won the 2008 election, why in the hell are we letting the minority run the show?

We need to do away with the filibuster now. Unfortunately, it would take 67 votes to change the Senate rules and there just isn’t that many Senators who will go along with it. After all, it is the ONLY thing that the Republicans have to make Democrats look bad — and they are going full bore with it.

But there is a much easier way to forever do away with the filibuster — and it only takes fifty votes.

There are fifty votes in the Senate right now for a health care reform bill that includes a “public option”, a buy-in for Medicare, an anti-trust measure for insurance companies, regulations that prevent them to raise premiums on “pre-existing illnesses”. The Votemaster at Electoral-Vote has the following scenario imagined:

After some debate on the health-insurance bill, Reid could recognize a Democratic senator who called for an immediate vote on the bill. Some Republican would surely raise a point of order claiming that Senate rule 22 prohibits a vote unless 3/5 of the senators agree to cut off debate. The Senate’s presiding officer, Vice President Joe Biden, would then ask the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, whether the point was valid. Frumin would say it was, but Biden could overrule him and call for an immediate vote anyway. Some Republican would surely object to this ruling from the chair and ask the Senate to decide. If a simply majority of the Senate agreed with the ruling, the vote would take place. In other words, when the meaning of a Senate rule is in dispute, the presiding officer makes a decision, which the full Senate can sustain or overrule. Changing Senate rules requires 67 votes, so that is not going to happen any time soon. It is possible that Reid didn’t want to go this route because he was worried that in some future Republican-controlled Senate, the Democrats might want to filibuster something and he could then appeal to the Republicans saying: “We could have gone nuclear on you in 2009 and didn’t, so please be nice and don’t go nuclear on us now.”

That means the Democrats could put back in all of the provisions they were blackmailed into taking out. Republicans raise a Point of Order based on Rule 22 and Joe Biden asks the Senate Parliamentarian whether the point is valid and the Senate Parliamentarian will say that it is. Biden then uses his authority to overrule the Senate Parliamentarian and the vote is taken allowing for a simple majority to pass the legislation.

If Reid and other Democrats are worried that if they “Go Nuclear”, that the Republicans will surely use it against them when they have power, they are being awful naive. Of COURSE they are going to use it the next time they gain control. If Democrats don’t use the nuclear option now, the Republicans are SURE to use it when they get back in.

This way we can get our Congress back to where it should be.