Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Come At The Senate Minority Leader, You Best Not Miss

Omar Little would react negatively to procedural reforms
that only partially curtailed his power.
Continuing on the subject of Senate procedural reform, it's worth pointing out that the structure of the institution leaves Harry Reid very little middle ground tactically. To repeat, as a norms-driven body with a plethora of available delaying tactics available to a determined minority, any attempt to curtail minority power that is deemed inappropriate by the minority will be met with maximum possible intransigence. So either Reid can come up with a set of reforms that Mitch McConnell considers acceptable and will not result in vigorous resistance, or he goes all the way and effectively shuts out the minority entirely.

I suppose there is some scenario wherin McConnell offers brief resistance, then knuckles under as public opinion mounts against Congressional Republicans. But this goes against everything that Congressional Republicans have done for the past four years.

3 comments:

Ann Pearl said...

Love having political analysis by The Wire characters.

Anonymous said...

"So either Reid can come up with a set of reforms that Mitch McConnell considers acceptable and will not result in vigorous resistance, or he goes all the way and effectively shuts out the minority entirely."

I disagree. If there weren't a host of other procedural tools that could tie up the Senate in knots, something like Merkley's requirement that 20 members of the minority be present at all times to sustain a filibuster wouldn't shut out the minority entirely, but it would keep the minority from tying up the Senate in knots whenever they were in the mood.

The problem is that the filibuster and its close relatives are not the only means of using Senate rules to shut down the Senate. If Reid wants to do serious filibuster reform, he's got to go through the Senate rulebook and remove every other rule (e.g. forcing bills to be read aloud) that the minority can use to keep just about anything from getting done.

Barring that, I think Reid should settle for (a) making the motion to proceed non-filibusterable, and (b) reducing post-cloture debate to an hour for each party. Mitch could still throw a hissy fit, but even the Villagers would wonder what the hell he was complaining about. And it would move the ball forward at least somewhat.

-low-tech cyclist

BruceMcF said...

"any attempt to curtail minority power that is deemed inappropriate by the minority will be met with maximum possible intransigence"

As opposed to?

If the minority was not at present deploying what at one time would have passed for maximum possible intransigence, that would be a more credible threat.