Harry Reid's Nuke Will Backfire

Democrats will rue the day they changed the rules of the Senate.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, shown Nov. 21, 2013, was hospitalized early Friday after not feeling well.

In a display of naked political power, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday forced a rules change on the world's greatest deliberative body that will forever change the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. Using the same kind of parliamentary chicanery Reid vehemently denounced when the Republicans contemplated doing the same thing while George W. Bush was president, the wily Nevadan lowered the ultimate threshold of for the Senate's "advice and consent" from 60 votes to a simple majority.

Reid's excuse – that the Republicans had abused the filibuster to the point the change was required in order for the government to continue to function – simply does not hold water. He may be able to produce numbers showing that more Obama nominees have been stopped by filibuster than any other president's, but the truth is that it has been the Democrats who mastered the art.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

Throughout the Reagan and Bush presidencies, Senate Democrats used the filibuster to obstruct the Republican agenda for governing the nation and to block appointments to the federal bench and to executive branch agencies and independent commissions. Under Reid's tenure as majority leader, he has effectively blocked GOP senators from offering amendments to pending legislation so many times through his control of the calendar that the only recourse remaining to anyone who objected to a particular part of a bill was to filibuster the whole thing.

Reid's maneuver puts another nail in the coffin of the separation of powers that, in their infinite wisdom, the Founding Fathers hardwired into the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. House of Representatives, whose membership is based on the population of the states, is supposed to be run at all times by a majority of its members. In the Senate, each state has equal representation, meaning each state, and for that matter each senator, should be equal in weight to every other – which is why the Founders intended for it to move more slowly and deliberately and to be insulated from sudden shifts in national opinion. This is why only one-third of that body comes up for election every two years.

In any event, the deal is done – and Democrats will rue the day they brought this change in the rules to pass. Like those who adhere to Karl Marx's "scientific" view of history and the progress of events, the left-liberal coalition that now runs the Senate believes it will remain in power forever, that its hand will remain on the tiller of the ship of state for an indefinite period. This is not only anti-democratic, it is simply wrong.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Viewpoints change. Allegiances shift. Voting patterns are not chiseled in stone. The GOP will again win control of the Senate and the White House – and sooner than many Democrats seem to think, thanks to the debacle that is Obamacare. When they do, and they will, they will use these new rules to their own advantage, while the Democrats and their left-liberal allies in the major media yelp like scalded dogs about the unfairness and undemocratic nature of what is going on. In the end, what Reid has done will make it easier than it has been for conservatives to put an end to the cradle-to-grave liberal welfare state that is the dream of the progressive movement.

The Republicans, ably led by the smartest and most capable GOP floor leader they have had in some time – Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell – will adapt to the change. They will find ways to continue to torment Reid's desire to be "Speaker of the Senate" rather than simply the leader of the majority party. They will find ways to block unsuitable appointees and to impede the orderly flow of the legislative process if Reid continues to shut them out. This is not the end and the Democrats, despite what they seem to think, have not won. Nor have they put the best interests of the country first. They are just looking out for themselves, at the people's expense.

  • Read Laura Chapin: Why the Senate’s Nuclear Option on Filibuster Reform Matters
  • Read Peter Fenn: 8 Things Obama Must Do Now to Win the Health Care Fight
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