Nuclear option is no cause for celebration

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  • Gregory Hill Richboro, PA
    July 20, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    happy2bhere, term limits on the Presidency were implemented by constitutional amendment, a GOP initiative in response to FDR's four terms in office. That is why the term limit on the presidency differs from term limits imposed solely by an enactment by a state legislature.

    The GOP use of the filibuster on non-judicial appointments made by the President is unprecedented, and provoked the unprecedented response from Senator Reid. Mitch McConnell is the least likeable and most obstreperous minority leader in the Senate's history. He has been very clear about his obstructionist goal.

    I do not think Harry Reid would have had any difficulty whatsoever dealing with McConnell's predecessors: Bill Frist, Bob Dole or Howard Baker.

    As a Democrat who fully expects the Senate to become majority Republican in 2014, I would like to see the filibuster reformed so that it can slow down a bill (for a year or two even) but could not ultimately kill it.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 19, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    This whole episode is very much like the behavior of Orrin Hatch, who, having been in the Senate since 1976, has gone through multiple administrations of both parties.

    When Clinton was president, Hatch opposed almost every judicial appointment, only dislodging the logjam when he got his friend appointed as a federal judge in Utah.

    When Bush II was President and the Senate was controlled by the Democrats, Hatch wailed and moaned and had great gnashing of teeth, even bawling in fluent Bablylonian at the injustice of Senate Dems scrutizing Bush appointees.

    Now that Obama is president, Hatch reverts back to his Clinton era motif, complete with his own huffing and puffing about how things are going to blow up if the rules are changed.

    Mitch McConnell is trying to submarine Obama any way he can, trying to redeem himself because his #1 goal previously was to make Obama a one-term president. McConnell poisons relations so badly that a third party often has to step in to negotiate a modest compromise. Recently, Biden, now John McCain.

    All so McConnell can position himself in his election for 2014.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    Term limits are one solution. Another would be voters who don't just vote for whoever their party gives them. Or people going to the caucus and convention to make sure the party changes people every now and then.

    We probably won't have official term-limits any time soon, till then we need to do it ourselves. It would also be nice if we could prevent them from going straight back to Washington as paid lobbyists for the same companies they were working with when they were legislators.

    The problem with term limits is... it would have to be voted in State by State. And if some states don't do it... the other States won't.

    It's like limiting pork-barrel spending. Everybody wants it... but they want the other States to do it first. Which won't happen.

    Everybody wants other States to not just focus on bring home the pork spending in their state. And other states to have term limits. But not them. That's why nothing changes.

  • patriot vet Cedar City, UT
    July 19, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    to Roland Kayser:
    Yes you are right. Article I, Section 5, of the U.S. Constitution provides that "Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings."

    The Senate rules concerning debate were originally developed shortly after ratification of the Constitution. Because of the great consequence laws had on the populace, the Senate decided debate had to be open and continuing until agreement on legislation. The rules of debate have changed somewhat, but the principle of protecting minority party rights to continue debate was established in those early days.

    The term "filibuster" was used for the continuation of debate to delay a bill.

    Since the Constitution provides for the Senate to make it's own rules by simple majority, changing the traditional filibuster/cloture rules is up to the Senate. It would not be a breach of Constitutional authority.

  • David Centerville, UT
    July 19, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    So Democrats continue to reveal their method of government:

    "They can come along for the ride but they'll have to sit at the back of the bus" (Barack Obama).

    Then we see Harry Reid threaten to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority will have no voice or power.

    These two Democratic leaders fail to represent everything that has been great about American values. They seek only for power at the expense of our nation.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    July 19, 2013 2:22 p.m.

    2 bits

    I think you hit on the solution to the problem, namely term limits. However, for some stupid reason the Supreme Court ruled that term limits were unconstitutional. That I can't understand as apparantly the 2 term limit for the President isn't unconstitutional. So, we get stuck with career politicians who lose touch with reality in their D.C. bubble after so many years there. I say, any politician (like Hatch for instance) who has lived more time out of his own state than in it should no longer be considered a citizen of said state and therefore not eligible to hold state office. How about that? Every state should pass that law. We have to get around the "no term limits" anyway we can.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 19, 2013 1:25 p.m.

    "The Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advise and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Counsels, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all Other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.

    Not that long ago it was rare that nominees would linger on the list of pending confirmation for days, weeks, and months. On Memorial Day 2002, during George W. Bush’s administration, 13 nominations were pending on the executive calendar. Eight years later, under Obama, the number was 108.

    But the culture of today’s Senate provides no restraints on the exercise of this potential power and no protection of the country’s interest in having a newly-elected president move quickly and effectively to form a government. One telling indicator of the arbitrary and self-indulgent use of holds on nominees is when a successful cloture vote to overcome a longstanding hold is followed by a near-unanimous vote for confirmation. This happens with increasing frequency in the Senate. "
    (Thomas Mann)

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    July 19, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    There's been a lot of talk about Senate traditions, and how reforming the filibuster just allows majorities to abuse the minority.

    Sorry, folks. That ship sailed a long time ago.

    The Senate was once a place where republicans and democrats debated proposals in good faith for the good of the country. A filibuster was a way to keep debate going--think "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." But now, just by threatening a filibuster, the minority can stop anything it wants, no questions asked. And this is increasingly routine--which is why the Senate can't get anything done.

    Reforming the filibuster wouldn't mean discarding the traditions of the Senate. Perhaps we could go back to requiring an actual "talking filibuster", as it was before the 1970s. Or we could require that fewer and fewer votes be needed to break the filibuster as time went on. That could actually help make the senate into a place of intelligent debate, rather than partisan obstruction.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    to patriot vet: The constitution does not mention filibusters anywhere.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    You can split hairs, but he was against it. And he'll be against it again when Democrats are in the minority again someday.

    It will happen. I guarantee it. America has a long history of switching the party in the majority every few years. Some Democrats are getting cocky and think they are going to be in control forever... so they don't need to worry about it and can do whatever they want. But throughout history that's precisely when America has decided to make a switch (when the majority party gets cocky).

    It's happened to both parties. It will continue to happen to both parties. As soon as they think they have Washington in their pocket for good... they start making mistakes and America switches. I don't see this ever ending (regardless of Media's insistence that Democrats are the only remaining party and that Republicans will soon cease to exist).

    Even if Republicans go away... they will just be replaced by something else. That's the way it's always been, and it will always be. There will never be one party in control forever in a country like America. Moscow... maybe.

  • patriot vet Cedar City, UT
    July 19, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    The Constitution provided rules that insure the Senate minority party has power. After 224 years, this most wise blueprint for democracy continues to be the World's greatest political achievement (and inspired by Diety, too).

    The filibuster has been adjusted over time, such as in this case where it is used for confirmations of Executive branch appointees. But, even with modern updates, the filibuster and the Constitutional format for the Senate are truly inspired.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 19, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    "He objected to this concept when Democrats were in the Minority and Bush was in the White House. "

    He objected to this concept with regards to Republican consideration of using it for judicial appointments. What he was threatening here was using it only for administration official appointments, not judges or legislation.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    July 19, 2013 11:29 a.m.


    Both sides...

    An editorial investigating the record number of filibusters used by Republicans in the Senate would be welcomed.

    A bar chart would be a great visual aid.

    The whole exercise would give readers an idea of the Republican Filibuster records the Democratic Senators will surely attempt to break when they are in the minority.


  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    atl134 you ask the question everybody asks (throughout time). How do we get anything done when somebody keeps blocking us? The answer is... come up with ideas that are a win for both sides.

    Find ideas so obviously "good" that even the opposition wants them.

    I know you don't believe the other party can ever accept that the other party could have a good idea (I find myself doubting that frequently). But we have to have faith in the people (not the politicians). We have to have faith that the people will get mad if their politicians just keep playing games in Washington and voice their displeasure (which sometimes gets politicians attention)... or vote them out (which always get's politicians attention).

    The problem today is the politicians, but it's also the people. We are afraid to vote anybody out because we are so afraid somebody from the other party will sneak in. That's why we are where we are today IMO.

    That's why I support getting rid of incumbents frequently (including Hatch and Bennett). IMO congress was never intended to be a life-long career. It's a privilege... not a right.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    Politicians in the majority who want to pass laws that allow them to walk all over the minority just need to realize that the same laws they pass now will still be in effect when they are in the Minority again someday.

    They tend to want these laws when they are in the Majority... but they whine like babies when they are in the Minority and the same laws are used to trample over them.

    What we need is more intellectual_honesty in Washington. That means what's right is right regardless of the side you're on today.

    Harry Reid is the worst at this. He objected to this concept when Democrats were in the Minority and Bush was in the White House. But now he wants it.

    There are reasons our founding fathers wanted a super-majority for some decisions. They wanted to encourage leaders to come up with ideas that would get at least some approval from both sides. They wanted them to have to try extra-hard to come up with legislation that both sides saw as "good".

    Granted out-of-control partisanship makes this extra hard (both parties)

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    No comment on the Republican's egregious abuse of the filibuster though?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 19, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    What were democrats supposed to do in the face of record-breaking usage of GOP filibusters (in some cases designed so that nobody, no matter how qualified, could ever be appointed to a position like the chair of the CFPB or the ATF)?

  • Filo Doughboy Bakersfield, CA
    July 19, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Democracy was held hostage.

    But, hey- democracy is all we've got to work with, this side of tyranny.