Safeguard Rights In the U.S. Senate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already is well on his way to making that house of Congress a rubber stamp for whatever he, often at the behest of President Barack Obama, wants to do. Thoughtful senators of both major political parties should stop him.
Reid, D-Nev., has taken steps to circumvent protections built into the legislative process to avoid narrow majorities of lawmakers from riding roughshod over the rights of senators in the minority. The nation’s founders were dead-set against that. Establishing a Senate with two members from each state, rather than representation proportional to population, was one technique used.
Others have been added. The Senate committee process is one. It usually requires legislation be recommended by committees, in which amendments can be made.
But nearly 70 times, Reid has bypassed committees, sending bills straight to the floor. Another technique, sometimes called “filling the tree,” is to load a bill with as many amendments as are permitted, so others cannot be added.
Now Reid wants to eliminate the filibuster process, by which a bill can be blocked unless 60 senators agree to stop discussion of the bill. For decades, the filibuster has safeguarded those in the minority – including people from states such as West Virginia – from action by lawmakers who can muster even small majority votes.
Reid wants to ensure that any bill he wants, no matter how damaging to states represented by the senators in the minority, can be enacted. He should not be permitted to do that.