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Friday, December 14, 2012

Rand Paul Calls Harry Reid's Bluff On Changing Senate Rules

By Susan Duclos

Wow, Senator Rand Paul has just upped the ante, big time, on the dangerous game Harry Reid has been playing where he wants to change the rules of the Senate:

Currently, the Senate requires 67 votes, a two-thirds majority, to shut down debate to change its rules. The Senate should be consistent and not changed at the whim of 51 of its members. Sen. Reid knows this, but is insisting that debate on Senate rules can be shut down with 51, and plans to use this tactic to impose his will on the body.

While I disagree with his underlying assertion, if he is going to break the rules to change the rules with a 51-vote threshold, then I will fight back by offering a series of rules changes that will improve the Senate. But instead of stepping on the rights of most senators, my changes will enhance the rights of all Americans and restore constitutional order in the Senate. Each of these could be passed with a simple majority, but would require a two-thirds vote to waive later.

Among my many proposed rule changes are:

• Each year’s budget must be balanced.

• A point of order demanding enumerated constitutional authority for any piece of legislation.

• A point of order protecting each one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Any senator could, at any time and as a privileged motion, assert that a bill violated one of the first 10 amendments.

• A waiting period of 20 days for each page of legislation.

• A sunset provision on all major new legislation.

There are many, many more I can and will likely offer in the unfortunate event Sen. Reid tries to strong-arm the Senate into breaking its own rules to increase his power over the body. The Senate was intended to be a place where legislation was slowed down. It was supposed to be the place where amendments were offered, debate was encouraged, and all participated in a process that led to better laws.
The Senate is supposed to be the “deliberative body.” Well Sen. Reid, deliberate on this: In pursuit of more power, are you willing to expose your caucus to the votes I’ve outlined above, or others such as term limits, one subject at a time, any infringement of Second Amendment rights, and a two-thirds majority to raise taxes?

Also, I want the Senate to consider a new rule stripping the majority leader of the power to prevent amendments to bills. This is a “filibuster reform” that all should support, because on the vast majority of bills, Sen. Reid forbids amendments. By forbidding amendments, he is essentially filibustering himself. By abusing his power and blocking virtually all amendments on most bills, the Senate has broken down into a charade and a farce. This must end.

In other words, Senator Paul will use Harry Reid's own changed rules to force Democrats to weigh in on issues that Americans want but that Democrats have been able to block using the very methods that Reid now wants to change, but with Reid's 'changes," he would not be able to protect them from going on the record and voting any longer.

This is actually a stroke of genius on the part of Rand.