Wednesday, February 18, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Sooner Or Later --- The Senate Eleven?

In January, 2015, eleven new Republican senators took their
oath of office. Nine of them had replaced Democratic
senators, and had given back the conservative party control
of the U.S. senate.

Since that time, the U.S. house has continued to pass legislation
consistent with its promises to voters in 2014, and sent this
legislation to the U.S. senate. In recent years, these actions
were futile because Democrats controlled the senate, and the
Democratic majority leader (Harry Reid) would not even allow
house-passed legislation to the floor of the senate. In 2015,
however, the Republicans hava clear control of the senate, and
there is an expectation that both houses could pass conservative
legislation and send it to Democratic President Obama (who
would then likely veto it). But unlike in previous actions, the
liberal Democrats, and not conservative Republicans, would
now be clearly seen as standing in the way of popular legislation.

From the Republican point of view, it has not worked out as
expected. Lacking a super majority of 60 votes, they could not
prevent the Democrat minority of 46 senators from preventing
a block of voting on certain kinds of legislation. This includes
the passage of a bill funding the U.S. department of homeland
security (DHS).

The U.S. house, under Speaker John Boehner, has passed a bill
funding DHS, but with a rider that prevents President Obama
from implementing his controversial immigration plan. Senate
Democrats are preventing this bill from being voted on (if it
were, it would pass). If a bill is not passed and signed by the
president in only a few days, DHS will run out of money. Most
of the important DHS services will continue, but eventually
DHS employees will have to be paid, or they will stop work.

Typical of the past several years, the liberal news media portrays
the Republicans of being responsible for “shutting down the
government,” even though in this case it is the Democrats who
are responsible for the stalemate.

To be fair, Republicans often did the same to liberal legislation
when they only controlled one house of the Congress.

The most important issue here is not the DHS funding, but how
the new senate GOP majority is going to resolve the impasse.
Mr. Boehner and his house colleagues have indicated that they
are not going to “bite the political bullet” and rescind their action
to satisfy the minority senate Democrats.

The complex and labyrinthine rules of the U.S. senate are more
complicated than this pundit can understand well enough to offer
a solution. But the senate Republicans, which include various
factions on a variety of important issues, are going to have to
figure out a resolution. They are not going to be bailed out by the
U.S. house. If they do not find a modus operandi this time, the
problem will only recur almost immediately with the next
important legislation.

I do have a suggestion. During the 2014 campaign, I had the
opportunity to interview and observe in action ten of the eleven
GOP senate freshman class. I have written that they are perhaps
the most remarkable and potentially capable freshman class
in memory. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, Senator Tom Cotton of
Arkansas, Senator, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Senator
Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Senator Shelley Caputo of West
Virginia have already provoked headlines and begun to
make their mark, but Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota,
Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Senator Stephen Daines of
Montana, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Senator Ben
Sasse of Nebraska, Senator David Perdue of Georgia are each
quite capable of lending important efforts to a successful
Republican senate majority in this session.

Freshman senators are supposed to keep quiet and learn the
rules of the senate. I am suggesting that the circumstances are
so extraordinary that perhaps the freshman class should take a
more active role than usual, and help establish new ways, if not
new rules, to stop a prolonged stalemate on vital legislation.

The American people are watching, and I think the results of
2014 indicate clearly that the voters want action, and not more
stalemate in the nation's capital.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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