by Kerry Picket 25 May 2014 post a comment
The Democrats’ majority in the Senate is on the line this election season, and if Republicans take back control, the GOP will need to decide on new rules for the new Congress in the upper chamber. Some Republican members are willing to go back to way things were before Harry Reid took the gavel.
In the wake of the recent controversial nomination of Judge David Barron, author of the memo which gave a legal basis to kill Americans abroad with drones, to the first U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Republicans became apoplectic after getting word that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to change the filibuster rules on federal nominees again to make the process favor the majority further. Don Stewart, spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Breitbart News on Wednesday that McConnell has already made it clear that, should the Republicans take back the Senate, decisions on rules will be made among conference members.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), known for his 13-hour filibuster last March against CIA Director John Brennan, filibustered Barron on Wednesday, but as a result of Reid’s recent rule change requiring only a simple majority as opposed to 60 votes for nominees, his remarks were not nearly as long.
"I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat," Paul said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a President is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court."
Paul later told reporters, “Ultimately, you never stop any vote with a filibuster. You usually got something in exchange for making it easy. So I’d rather have them all today. I’d rather have them all in five minutes. I don’t care to obstruct the process, but I do care to try to use what leverage I have to get something the vast majority of the public wants.”
Paul later told Breitbart News that, if Republicans take the Senate next year, he would like to see the filibuster rules go back to a 60-vote threshold, saying, “I am a traditionalist. I do like the original rules.”
Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) agree with Paul regarding the steps the GOP should take with the rules if they capture the Senate’s majority.
“Change the rules back right away. I would change the rules back to have to get 60 votes to put the judge or an executive nominee. Why would we not want that tool available to us? I think it would be political malpractice of the Republican Party to not change the rules back and require 60 votes,” Graham told Breitbart News, noting Reid’s power grab “has turned the Senate into the House.”
McCain referred to the late West Virginia Democratic Senator Bob Byrd saying, “Oh yeah. We’ll change it back. We will change it back and go to regular order. We will allow amendments. We will do what Robert Byrd once said. 'Every Senator should have the right to propose his or her amendment.'”
However, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sees it differently from his colleagues, telling Breitbart News that Republicans are “too honorable” in circumstances like these.
“But I wouldn’t mind them where they are, so we can teach a lesson to those Democrats who have never been in minority what its like to be in the minority, how important those rules are,” Hatch said. “There’s [a] reason why we have the filibuster rule—because they couldn’t get anything done, and they had to have a way of invoking cloture so you’d go to the bill and get it done.”
He explained, “Both sides benefitted from it, and both sides hated it from time to time. It was a really important rule. The Democrats just changed it because most of them have never been in the minority, and they just assume they’re going to be in the majority forever.”