OP-ED

Suddenly, the presidential campaign season has descended on the Senate filibuster reform debate.

A recent magazine headline declared, “Republicans begin planning to nuke filibuster and repeal ObamaCare.” This trumpets Jeb Bush’s acknowledgement that he would “certainly consider” use of what some are calling the “Reid rule” to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Scott W...

President Obama went before the Congress last month to deliver his State of the Union address.  It has become the norm in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of recent years that as the president detailed his plans for the nation, on item after item, his party jumped to their feet and applauded.  Republicans sat stoically in their seats registering their disapproval....

Last November, Senate Democrats used a parliamentary ploy we know as the “nuclear option” to circumvent Senate filibuster rules to permit ending the debate on confirmation of presidential nominations (except for the Supreme Court) by a simple majority.  This was accomplished by rejecting President pro tempore Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) ruling to the contrary and crea...

Sociologist Robert K. Merton popularized the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”  In his 1936 work on the subject, one category he identified “immediate interest which neglects consideration of the longer term” describes well the “nuclear option” which Senate Democrats employed in November to kill the filibuster for nominations (except to the Supreme Court.)

Driven b...

Vice President Biden intoned, “On this vote, the yeas are 54, the nays are 46. Under the previous order requiring 60 votes, the amendment is not agreed to.” Moments later, from the gallery, Patricia Maisch, survivor of the horrific Tucson shooting, shouted at the senators below, “Shame on you!” 

The Senate had defeated the bipartisan compromise background-check ame...

It is hard to disagree with the headline on Bill Galston and Mark McKinnon’s op-ed in The Hill on Jan. 17: “Time for up-or-down votes in Senate on appointees.” The recent, highly partisan tit-for-tat demeans senators and the president, intensifies the polarization of the parties and deepens the public’s cynicism about Washington. 

First, the Senate Republicans held...

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Richard A. Arenberg

Brown University