Fixing the Senate

Fixing the Senate October 24, 2014

In a column on Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, who–IF he gets re-elected to the Senate and IF Republicans win a majority on that body–could be the next Senate Majority Leader, George Will offers an explanation of why the Senate is paralyzed and how a Republican victory could fix things.

From George Will: Restoration of Senate’s dignity rides on Mitch McConnell – The Washington Post:

Since Republicans won control of the House in 2010, the Democratic-controlled Senate’s function has been obstruction. Reid has prevented bills passed by the Republican House from coming to a vote and has prevented Republicans — and Democrats, too — from proposing amendments to Senate bills that would be awkward for Democrats to oppose or for Obama to veto. Obama has cast only two vetoes, both for technical reasons on minor matters. Since July 2013, McConnell says, there have been only 22 Senate roll-call votes on amendments — and says Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has never in his six Senate years had a roll-call vote on an amendment of his.

Such paralysis of the Senate leaves Obama uninhibited in his use of executive orders and bureaucratic mission-creep to advance goals that should require legislation. In January, in the most statesmanlike Senate speech in years, McConnell explained how, under Republican leadership, the Senate would be restored as the creator of consensus:

“An executive order can’t [create consensus]. The fiat of a nine-person court can’t do it. A raucous and precarious partisan majority in the House can’t do it. The only institution that can make stable and enduring laws is the one we have in which all 50 states are represented equally, and where every single senator has a say in the laws that we pass.”

Beneath McConnell’s chilly exterior burns indignation about the degradation of the institution to which he has devoted much of his life. The repair of it, in the form of robust committee and amendment processes — and an extended workweek — will benefit Democratic members, too.

I know, Democrats blame the paralysis on Republicans, particularly in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.   Who has the best case?

That column also has this good line, written, keep in mind, by George Will:

McConnell’s skills have been honed through five terms. He is, however — let us say the worst — not cuddly. National Review has said he has “an owlish, tight-lipped public demeanor reminiscent of George Will.” Harsh. But true.”

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