Kill the Filibuster Before It’s Too Late

August 6, 2017

The Wall Street Journal
Kill the Filibuster Before It’s Too Late
By Andy Biggs
August 6, 2017

Bills pass the House, only to die of neglect in the Senate.

The greatest obstacle blocking Republicans from fulfilling our agenda is not manufactured outrage about Russians. It’s the Senate filibuster, the 60-vote threshold to suspend debate that prevents most bills from making it to the floor.

For years, my fellow Arizonan Rep. Trent Franks has condemned the 60-vote rule, arguing that it stops too many bills already passed by the House from becoming law. President Trump has now joined the chorus of filibuster critics as he watches his agenda languish. Republicans should consign the 60-vote rule to history—or risk throwing away their agenda along with their congressional majority.

The filibuster forces the majority into awkward legislative maneuvers. Take the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare through the Senate’s reconciliation process. The way it works is that once a budget is passed, a follow-up bill gets one chance to be reconciled in the Senate with only 51 votes. So first the House had to pass a faux budget, to make reconciliation available. Then House leaders tried to stuff as much ObamaCare replacement in one bill as they thought Senate rules would allow. The result of these wild procedural manipulations was a legislative train wreck that—at least temporarily—has halted progress toward the central Republican goal.

But that’s only the beginning of what the filibuster thwarts. The House has already passed more than 200 bills this year, including legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank and strengthen immigration enforcement. All that legislation is parked in the Senate because even getting a vote effectively requires 60 ayes. The only conclusion is that the Senate is controlled by the minority party. Eight Democrats trump the Republican majority.

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