Monday, September 28, 2015
Make Obama Use His Veto Pen
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to achieve much. As a result the base is angry and frustrated -- directly leading to the rise of Donald Trump. Talk radio, in particular Hugh Hewitt, are pressuring McConnell to use the "nuclear option" to get rid of the filibuster. That would allow Republicans to pass legislation with a bare majority, rather than the 60 vote super-majority now required to end a filibuster with a cloture vote.
McConnell wisely resits the pressure to nuke the filibuster because he recognizes that it has protected conservative principles by allowing Republicans to block terrible legislation, such as union card check. McConnell's concerns are well-placed, given that Republicans have only had more than 55 votes in the Senate once in the last century. If history is any guide, Republicans will need the protection of filibuster. Republicans should take the long view on this issue.
McConnell is also correctly concerned about the Senate as an institution. As George Washington explained, the Senate is tea saucer that cools and slows down the hot water sloshing out of the tea cup: the House of Representatives. Does the filibuster slow things down? Yes; it's supposed to.
But the anger among Republicans is real; it is wide as well as deep. McConnell needs to acknowledge that fact and modulate accordingly.
I'm no expert on Senate procedure. However, it seems to me that Republicans can use the reconciliation process -- which only requires 51 votes -- to send a bill to Obama that keeps the government from shutting down. Attach to that a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. By using the reconciliation process, there is no filibuster. Therefore, there is no need for a cloture vote to end a filibuster. Likewise, there is no need to nuke the filibuster to get around Republicans not having 60 votes.
Recall that the reconciliation process was what Democrats used to enact Obamacare.
To be sure, Obama would veto a bill with a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. He has said so, and in this instance, I take him at his word. Make him veto it anyhow. If the government shuts down as a result, it will be on his watch.
The Planned Parenthood videos are horrific. Desperate measures are called for as a response. Making Obama veto a bill is a start.