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Wax Your Sleds - The Slippery Slope is Open!

Wax Your Sleds - The Slippery Slope is Open!

For all of its 225 years, the Senate protected minority rights by requiring a super-majority to end debate.  That was true for both legislation and nominations.  This rule ensured that a simple majority could not bulldoze a minority into silence.  It had stood since the days when Thomas Jefferson helped guide the development of Senate rules (Jefferson once remarked that the surest protection of the minority was the thorough understanding and use of parliamentary procedure). The rule stood, that is, until last November, when Senator Reid and his Democrat accomplices threw it out. What Reid did was so offensive that the press termed it the "nuclear option." They obliterated the rules of the Senate so they could end debate on nominations with a simple majority vote.

Questioned as to whether this abuse would escalate, Reid claimed that was as far as he wanted to go. He would never change the Senate rules further to, say, allow cloture on legislation by a simple majority vote. Some critics said his rash action had put the Senate on a slippery slope; given past events, it was only a matter of time until he would renege on that promise.

Get out your sleds, folks - the time is here. Last 
week Reid proposed an agreement on the unemployment extension legislation which sure looks like the first push of the sled down that steep slope. Senator Reid proposed votes on a limited number of relevant amendments by both the Republicans and the Democrats. Each of these amendments would require, under the agreement, 60 votes to pass. Then Senator Reid would get a vote on his own proposal, but that would only need a simple majority vote to pass.

Now think carefully: What does this mean? Amendments would be allowed as long as they had no chance of winning. The Majority Leader would be able to pass his proposal with a simple majority vote and wouldn't need 60 votes for cloture.

The offer was a blatant attempt to give the Majority Leader special treatment.  Apparently one Senator is more equal than the others. It would ignore the need to get 60 votes to end debate on Senator Reid's legislation.

How long will it be until Senator Reid decides to use another nuclear option? To change the senate rules and end debate on legislation without any protection for minority rights in the senate? Judging by the half-life of his latest promise not too long.

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