02.26.2015 0

GOP on ‘very thin ice’ on amnesty

By Robert RomanoWhite_Flag_Establishment

House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) will find himself “on very thin ice” if he relies primarily on House Democrat votes to pass a Department of Homeland Security funding bill from the Senate.

That was Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), quoted by the Associated Press, commenting on a Senate bill that strips out language that would have prohibited President Barack Obama from granting unconstitutional amnesty to 4.5 million illegal immigrants with U.S-born children.

The bill, which was brought to the Senate floor by a vote of 98-2, came after four failed cloture votes to bring the original House version of the bill to the floor.

Senate Democrats were filibustering the legislation, which required 60 votes to proceed. So, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to amend the bill without a vote and then bring it to the floor, appeasing Senate Democrats.

Salmon was livid, says the Washington Post, saying, “Voters believed that in November Harry Reid was going to be dethroned and that the Senate was going to be controlled by Republicans, so I’m sad to say that hasn’t happened.”

So, what gives?

Under Senate rules — which former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unilaterally “altered” without the required two-thirds vote when he couldn’t get some Obama nominees to the floor — it takes 60 votes to get much of anything done.

For Senate Republicans, that has been a problem for almost a century. In fact, since the advent of Rule XXII establishing cloture 98 years ago, Republicans have never had a filibuster-proof majority. And if history holds, they likely never will.

Some commentators, such as nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin and syndicated Charles Krauthammer, have called for Senate Republicans to just abolish the filibuster — using precisely the same procedure Reid used.

Wrote Krauthammer, “My problem was the egregious way Reid changed the rule: by a simple majority, 52-48, with zero Republicans onboard (and three Democrats defecting).”

Would it violate the rules? Unquestionably. The same Senate rule that governs the filibuster also states, “to amend the Senate rules… the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting.”

But, so what? Why would Republicans constrain themselves with rules the other party does not care about and does not follow? This is the same rule Democrats violated.

As Krauthammer notes, “What’s the downside? Democrats showed in 2013 their willingness to trash Senate procedure for a mess of pottage — three judges on one court. If Republicans stand pat now, what’s to stop Democrats from abolishing the filibuster altogether when it suits them in the future?”

Otherwise, there will be two sets of rules in the Senate, one that applies to Republicans, with supermajorities imposed on the “ruling” party, and another that applies to Democrats, with simple majorities to conduct business.

Why wait for that happen? Just ignore the rule, reasons Levin and Krauthammer.

In the very least, abolishing the filibuster would help Republicans get legislation on Barack Obama’s desk, even if it is to be vetoed.

And if Senate Democrats want to restore Senate rules, they can start by agreeing to impeach all of the judges and officials that were confirmed by breaking Senate rules in the first place. Or they could file a court brief, which might create precedent that results in their own rule-breaking appointments being removed, and all of their decisions overturned.

Indeed, what is the downside?

Or Republicans can just submit to Democrat rule forevermore — which will filibuster GOP initiatives even when Republicans control the White House — and keep skating on thin ice.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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