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February 27, 2015

Capitulation A Bad Idea

Joe Charlebois

Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate’s majority leader, has yet to realize that his party – the Republican Party – is now in the majority and that – along with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives – he has the ability to control the legislative agenda.


If Mr. McConnell continues to stand down to the wishes of the minority leader – Harry Reid (D., NV) – and President Barack Obama, he will effectively end any hope of turning back the president’s rogue agenda.


In January, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would specifically cutoff funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to administer the president’s amnesty plan. The bill would approve funding for all other DHS programs and services but would send a direct message to the president that they believe his actions to be unconstitutional.


On February 16th, federal judge Andrew Hanan of Texas issued a preliminary injunction that halted the president’s plan to temporarily suspend deportation of a reported five million illegal immigrants for the next three years. The assistant attorney general of Texas, Angela Colmenero, brought forward the lawsuit along with 25 other states that view this executive action as an undue burden on state and local jurisdictions.


In light of this action and buoyed by the possibility that the president’s executive action may be deemed unconstitutional, the Senate took up the House bill. The majority leader was unable to garner enough votes in the Senate to reach a super majority and the Senate bill approving funding for DHS without funding the president’s amnesty plan faced a potential filibuster and was subsequently blocked by the minority.


The modern use of the filibuster has been abused. With the continual strict partisan stance on nearly every bill, the inability of the Republican leadership to sway the minds of minority senators is a serious roadblock to pass legislation that the November 2014 election called for. Democrat leaders assure that the minority continues to vote as a consistent bloc, ensuring that every single vote in the U.S. Senate requires a super-majority. The architects of the Constitution never envisioned a legislative body that would be mired in ineffectiveness due to a need for a super majority on each bill that was offered, which is why serious consideration needs to be given to changing the filibuster rules in the Senate.


If the Republican majority in the Senate wants to have any effect on stopping the overreach of the executive branch, it needs to play hard. Consideration of suspending the filibuster should be given serious thought. After all the minority leader – Mr. Reid – set the table for its elimination or suspension during his four years as majority leader when he eliminated the filibuster for appointments to the bench.


Instead of acting from a position of strength, the majority leader backed down and offered to fund the portion of DHS that approves of the president’s actions through a “clean bill.” The McConnell led Senate has agreed with the president and the minority that the funding for the amnesty plan be provided in the bill. In this action, Mr. McConnell has failed to support his counterparts in the House of Representatives and has instead sided with the opposition party and against the best interests of the nation.


If the Republican-led Senate does not use extraordinary measures to stand up to the actions of the president and capitulates, it will never win a vote in Congress while Mr. Obama is president.


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