I’ve been radicalized. By Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Goodbye, moderation and sweet reason. No more clinging to constitutional and procedural restraint. It’s time to go nuclear.
In the fourth quarter of his presidency, Obama unbound is abusing presidential authority to secure a legacy on everything from environmental regulation to immigrations, the laws of which he would unilaterally suspend. Republicans find themselves bleating plaintively about violations of the separation of powers. They thought they found an instrument of resistance in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The House has funded the department except for the immigration service, which was denied the money to implement Obama’s executive amnesty.
But Democrats have filibustered the bill in the Senate. And as the night follows day, Republicans, not the filibustering Democrats, will be blamed for shutting down the department and jeopardizing the nation’s safety.
There is a way out for the GOP. Go nuclear. Abolish the filibuster. Pass the bill and send it to the president. Reid went nuclear in November, 2013 when he abolished the filibuster for presidential appointees and judicial appointees (below the Supreme Court). He did it to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with liberals.
My beef with Reid was not what he did but how he did it. The filibuster has grown in use over the decades to the point of dysfunction. Everything needed 60 votes. This is relatively new and nowhere to be found in the Constitution. My problem was the way Reid changed the rule: by a simple majority, 52 – 48, with no Republican onboard (and three Democrats defecting). As I wrote at the time, “If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules.”
Reid went nuclear first. Time for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finish the job. Push the button. Abolish the filibuster.
Then pass the homeland security bill and send it to the president. He is likely to veto it, but the politics will have been radically changed. The current storyline is: Republican Congress won’t fund the Department of Homeland Security, threatening to shut it down. New storyline: Obama vetoes funding for DHS, threatening to shut it down.
Obama’s choice? Sign, veto or negotiate a compromise. If he vetoes, then Republicans take that issue to the country in 2016.
A GOP resort to the nuclear option might make Democrats come to their senses and negotiate a new understanding that any fundamental change in Senate rules – e.g., altering the filibuster – will henceforth require some agreed-to supermajority. No more bare-majority party-line coups. This would be ideal. But that’s for later. For now, go for the doable.
Abolish the filibuster and challenge the president. And when asked
“How can you do such a thing?” tell them to ask Harry Reid.