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What is to be done with the Senate ?

Summary:
What are we going to do about Mitch McConnell and his enabler Jim Manchin ? McConnell is blocking the establishment of committees for the 117th Senate. This means that the committees with Republican Chairs and Republican majorities will exist and operate in the Senate with a Democratic majority. He demands that Democrats promise not to eliminate the filibuster before he ends the filibuster of the resolution setting up the 117th Senate. One simple solution is to introduce bills on the floor. This is what McConnell did with his bill to repeal and replace the ACA. McConnell objecting to contempt for regular order is, quite possibly, absurd enough to be mocked even by very serious centrists. The point is that McConnell can block the establishment of

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What are we going to do about Mitch McConnell and his enabler Jim Manchin ? McConnell is blocking the establishment of committees for the 117th Senate. This means that the committees with Republican Chairs and Republican majorities will exist and operate in the Senate with a Democratic majority. He demands that Democrats promise not to eliminate the filibuster before he ends the filibuster of the resolution setting up the 117th Senate.

One simple solution is to introduce bills on the floor. This is what McConnell did with his bill to repeal and replace the ACA. McConnell objecting to contempt for regular order is, quite possibly, absurd enough to be mocked even by very serious centrists. The point is that McConnell can block the establishment of committees, but he can only make committees important if the Democrats allow him to.

So far, this might work for a while (motions to confirm straight to the floor as many have proposed for example). But the Democratic caucus will not allow Schumer to replace committees with himself (the Republican caucus didn’t let McConnell get away with it either). The problem is that Senators want the power that comes from serving on committees. Especially those who will be chairpersons if McConnell is convinced or nuked will not accept bills being written in Schumer’s office. What do do about the caucus ?

The Democratic caucus can do what it pleases with or without McConnell. It can establish committees of the caucus. t can have Senators chair those committees. Those committees can (Constitutionally) do most things which senate committees do, except there won’t be any Republicans on those committees. Schumer can bring to the floor bills drafted by committees of the Democratic caucus. If the Republicans refuse to play ball with the Democrats, the Democrats can leave them alone.

It remains true that Republicans can filibuster the bills when they get to the floor, but committees only matter if Schumer allows them to matter and he only has to delegate power to other Democrats.

McConnell will (correctly) note that this is an outrageous break from the traditions of the Senate. The Democrats can reply (in chorus) that they are eager to go to committee meetings as soon as McConnell ceases to filibuster the resolution setting up committees.

I don’t see a problem with this proposal. It won’t happen, but I don’t know why it won’t happen.

update: Now I’m really mad at McConnell. Minutes after I posted this plan to defeat his obstruction of the Senate rules resolution, he caved. Making me look like a fool *again* isn’t so bad compared to sabotaging constitutional democracy, but I don’t like it.

Also I am angry with Mike deBonis who wrote “the filibuster, the Senate rule that acts as a 60-vote supermajority requirement for most legislation.” The filibuster didn’t act as a 60-vote supermajority requirement for most legislation until 2009. The norm and tradition was that it was used rarely. The Senate ceased to function in 2009 because McConnell chose to ignore the norm and end the tradition that had enabled it to function (more or less) for centuries. This fact should not be elided.

Pointlessly long introduction which I wrote on an on and on before getting to my proposal after the jump

Clearly the sensible thing to do is to eliminate the filibuster right now and have the majority write and pass resolutions as it does in every other deliberative body in the world. It can’t be that the minority keeps majorities on committees just because they say so. This is absolutely anti democratic. All democrats must fight democracy’s enemy Mitch McConnell.

Speaking of which do you have any idea how hard it is to convince an iPhone to begin a sentence with a lower case letter ? Tweeting this tweet was hard

Democrats owe the USA an effective government. However much they might find McConnell attractive, they must not allow him to sabotage Congress for partisan gain *again* . democrats must make democracy function if they wish it to survive. They must defeat its enemy McConnell.

I do believe the McConnell is a threat to US Democracy. It is clear that he aims to prevent the US government from functioning so that people are disatisfied and vote for Republicans in the the mid terms. Remember what he did in 2009-10. It is clear that his assumption is that, if people are disatisfied and a Democrat is in the White House, they will elect Republicans. The fact that many of them just attempted to overthrow the US Constitution by force did not get his attention, or, at least, he is doing everything he can to discredit constitutional democracy (again).

However, I think the real problem is Jim Manchin who insists that McConnell will work with Democrats because he has too (or else he will be punished with a Senate majority again). I can see no reason why Manchin would benefit from lying about this. I fear that he must believe what he is saying. Liars in the Democratic caucus are nothing new, but he is an insane idiot.

Robert Waldmann
Robert J. Waldmann is a Professor of Economics at Univeristy of Rome “Tor Vergata” and received his PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Robert runs his personal blog and is an active contributor to Angrybear.

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