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  • How to Make Harry Reid's Power Grab Work for Conservatives

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) is expected to try to change the rules of the Senate to shut out the voices of the minority party in the new Congress. He calls it “filibuster reform,” but it is nothing more than a power grab by Senator Reid and the majority party to control the Senate’s agenda.

    This power grab would allow less time for deliberation on legislation and nominations for Senators, meaning less time for the American public to view that deliberation.

    There is a big problem with the tactic Reid is using to squelch the rights of individual members of the U.S. Senate—Reid has to ignore the letter of the rules to “reform” them with a simple-majority party-line vote.

    Reid’s theory was originally explained in a Congressional Research Service paper from 2005:

    Those who would seek to amend Senate rules or end a filibuster by a majority vote might use the first day of a new Congress to advance their proposal, arguing that Senate rules, particularly the cloture rule, Rule XXII, did not apply yet, and thus that debate could be ended by majority vote. Under this scenario, a Senator would move the adoption of a new rule or set of rules, which could contain changes to Rule XXII—or any other rule the Senator wanted to change.

    Reid has argued that the filibuster has been abused, yet he is the one who has abused the process. Reid frequently files cloture—a motion to shut off debate—before one word has been spoken on the merits of proceeding to a bill or any arguments against the substance of a bill or the qualifications of a nominee. Reid has also used a parliamentary tactic to block all hostile amendments to bills. These two acts by Reid are an abuse of the rules.

    Conservatives should turn the tables on him.

    What Reid is trying to do is wrong, yet the only way for conservatives to fight back is to engage the fight. If Reid is going to push the theory that until the Senate operates under the rules, there are no rules, then he has provided an unprecedented opportunity for conservatives to push some real Senate rules reform ideas. If there are no rules, then Reid can’t stop conservatives from offering a never-ending stream of rules change ideas for the Senate to cast votes on.

    Here are just a few ideas for rules changes that conservatives should push to make the Senate a more functional body:

    • A new two-thirds point of order against any infringement on the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. This would be subject to a simple majority vote under Reid’s theory. There is a pro-gun majority in the Senate today, and this might actually pass. It would be a great tool for conservatives to forever block reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in addition to any other gun-grabbing ideas.
    • A new two-thirds point of order against any net tax increase on the American people as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. This would be subject to a simple majority vote and is part of the Senate version of the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution supported by all members of the current Republican caucus.
    • A new point of order preventing the Senate Majority Leader from blocking amendments by filling up all the areas of the amendment tree with pro-forma amendments. Reid has used this tactic to prevent members from offering amendments. A new point of order should be proposed to prevent that tactic for Reid or any future Majority Leader.
    • A new point of order to make Senators sign a consent form before a bill is passed by “Unanimous Consent” or “UC.” Many times, the Senate operates by waiving the rules with the consent of all Senators. Many times the bills passed are opposed by members, but they fear getting blamed for obstructing bills by forcing the Senate to abide by all the rules to pass a bill or confirm a nomination. This would put all members explicitly on the record supporting legislation that sneaks through the Senate under the radar.

    These are merely a few ideas that could be rolled out by conservatives to fight back against the idea that the Senate can remove the rights of a minority with a party-line vote. The only way to stop Reid’s power grab is to roll out ideas for rules changes that conservatives support. Then maybe Reid will rethink his attempt to toss aside the rules in order to amass more power in the office of the Senate Majority Leader.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to How to Make Harry Reid's Power Grab Work for Conservatives

    1. Bobbie says:

      As Harry, Barack and the bunch feed themselves handsomely with all expenses paid off the backs of people they took valuable titles to pretend to serve, while building personal treasuries overseas letting their own cabinet members cheat the tax system while putting penalties and heavy interest rates on citizens who make a mistake, why isn't Harry, Barrack and the bunch offering to eliminate their unfunded pensions, also corrupt? Why hasn't Obama considered to mention collecting the debts owed by the world? Why isn't everyone corrupting America held accountable to the costs of all they corrupt? Housing, economy, education, on and on all government controlled!

    2. Johnv2 says:

      I would generalize the first suggestion to be a two thirds point of order against any legislation infringing any civil right of Americans. Not only would this apply to 2nd Amendment issues, but also any legislation affecting our privacy rights, for example.

      • Good point. The conservative Senate rules changes mapped out above are merely a starting point.

      • TimAZ says:

        I believe the idea is to make rule changes by piece meal in order to overwhelm Dingy Harry and tie up the Senate indefinitely to keep the socialist party from implementing their legislative will upon the American citizenry. I think its a brilliant idea.

    3. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Do we not realize, for the past four years, under direct instructions from Obama and his ilk, Reid has blocked most any plan passed by the Republican led House, from even coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote? Now that the first part of Obama's plan is complete (reelection), now comes the ultimate goal, collapse the US economical system so that the people will condemn capitalizm in favor of Socialism. As the election has proved, it's working to perfection.

    4. B. Yandow says:

      Have Brian Darling and Heritage forwarded these ideas to all Republican Senators?

    5. Mike88 says:

      These are all great points that should be used by Republicans in the Senate that is If we have any Republicans in the Senate with any real Backbone. I would say that Rand Paul is one of the Republican Senators who would have the courage to use the proposed =Senate Rule Change. Actually, I personally believe that no Senator should have the power or authority to Block any Proposed Bills from being introduced, Debated, or Voted on in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.After all why do we send State Representatives to the Capital and why do they bother writing Bills if they will be blocked by one person from being Introduced, Debated on or voted on. All Proposed Bills should be Introduced, Debated openly, and Voted on and should passed or fail on their merits or defects of benefiting all of the people of the nation.

    6. Louie says:

      Sounds like a great move. If conservatives would only move on it!

    7. Chris Gerval says:

      I would like to know if someone at the Heritage Foundation is in contact w/Republicans to guide them with these great ideas. Seems the House needs help in formulating a strategy to push back these Democrats and so far hasn't shown any ability to do so. I'd like to know for sure that the Heritage Foundation is in there giving these people the guidance they so surely need! We join and support the Foundation so you can be our spokesperson in these issues.

    8. Samuel af Ugglas says:

      What does these Chicago politicians care about Congress and Constitution, they violate it almost every day all year round?

    9. DennisCHP says:

      I am afraid my friends that all the politicians for the most part are spineless as is the electorate. I was hoping the Tea Party would start holding their feet to the fire. But we are just not far enough down the road as the mindless are now in control because of the things they receive without working or paying taxes. That soon will change when over 50% no longer work and there are no pots to rob. American revolution like the real Tea party will be the end result.

    10. witchrunner says:

      The problem the republicans have is that they still don't understand the rules of the game. As long as they insist on being more interested in playing fair than in winning, they will continue to lose. If Reid is successful in pulling this stunt, then the republicans in the senate have options, such as using all the rules to hold the floor. If Reid becomes so blatant that he disregards all sense of decorum, then the republicans still have the power to stop things. Just like they have the power to stop Obamacare, they have the power to stop Reid. The fact is that nothing can be done without both houses agreeing. So, if the rules aren't followed in the senate, then the house can back the senate republicans by dong nothing on any and all bills that the senate passes. The senators can also require all bills to be read. This should be done anyway. The problem you have is that Reid will just declare that everyone consents to waiving the reading even if no one can hear him so declaring because everyone is objecting. Still, containing these thugs will rest in the house. And I have no confidence that Boehner or any of the other republicans there will be willing to stand up and fight.

      The same can be done to fight Obamacare. Just don't fund it! And, they can slip in a total repeal of it in some bill that the dems want and hope that they don't read it.

    11. Mr. Darling PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO ALL NEW AND RETURNING REPUBLICAN SENATORS!! Saying it here is fine but not sure if any of the Senators read your articles!!

    12. ChuckL says:

      While we are at it, let's require that all bills introduced be placed on an internet site of the Senate in full text mode for approval by the senator's constituency. To be valid the voter must include the voter's registration or voting precinct.

    13. The "power Grab " took place about 100 years ago when the 16th and 17th Amendments allowed the creation of the federal aristocracy .

    14. James in Texas says:

      This is all based on the expectation that the leadership of the Republican side has the courage to actually want the rules followed. They always do what “works” for them sometime in the future if and when they may ever again be the majority. The basic corruption of our political system is shown by the fact that the House has always had, in fact, the ability to shut off funding to any program that they deem as beyond the scope of the powers of the elected elites Constitutional powers. Our current system is driven by power, money and position, not doing the work of the American people as they have been “hired to do”! I state this as a conservative and former Republican.

    15. the gop must not engage in compramise of any sorts. let the libs self destruct and they will.

    16. Eleanore Rideout says:

      The best way to take control of the Senate is to repeal the 17th Amendment. If we returned to the original constitutional mandate of having senators appointed by the state legislatures (instead of by popular vote), we would have better men and women in office. Some of the best refuse to run because they will not subject their families to the brutal political process. Think of all the horrible campaign ads we would be spared! It would also provide a simple, direct and immediate response to any abuse or misuse of power. The state legislature could recall them even before their term ended and appoint someone else. This would also guarantee the heart's cry of the people for term limits.

    17. Audrey Kline says:

      What are the conservatives afraid of? That they won't get re elected? They retire with full benefits….and surely can do more in the private sector with all the connections they have made………let's see some integrate for a change …..we the people can remove them…..they do work for us, or did they forget?

    18. William Jackson says:

      Basicaly, abide by Our foundation (The Constitution) or Lose Our Freedom we had for the Past 230 years. Wake up America, while we still have the chance to stop the loss of the foundation America was built upon! Don’t walk away from what Americans have fought and died for, to become a Socialistic country!

    19. You keep going..I'm done. There are too many stupid people to be able to turn us the right direction. Sorry George, Ben, Tom, John, James, and the rest. We just have too many stupid people in this country to go on. At least I'll go to my grave knowing I knew what real freedom meant. For the future generations…I hope your new drug laws and right to be slugs works out for yoiu.

    20. guest says:

      Heritage is a great organization. I am so so tired to hearing from Obama that the wealthy of this country do not pay their fair share. We all know that Obama's policies are simply redistributing of wealth and causing a huge division of Americans. I am really sick and tired of Obama's Socialistic and Communists Policies such as Cloward and Piven. When will he be stopped. He lies and cover up facts and figures. God Help Our Dear Country. Our Founders are rolling over in their graves because of this idiot that we call president!!!!

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