By Luke Messer, ,
Published January 24, 2018
The United States Senate is broken – and the recent Democratic-induced shutdown proves it. On Feb. 8, when we hit the self-imposed deadline for dealing with illegal immigrants who were brought here as children under the DACA program, we’re likely right back in the same position.
Democrats don’t want action; they want gridlock and shutdown. That’s why the time has come for Senate Republicans to rip up the rulebook and get rid of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes in the Senate for any legislation to pass instead of a simple majority.
Democrats have proven they don’t accept the results of the 2014 and 2016 elections. They’ve proven they will fight President Trump at every turn, even if they have no objection to the legislation or confirmation in question. They are unwilling to govern.
It’s time for Senate Republicans to stop enabling this destructive behavior. If they don’t, the American people will hold all senators, from both parties, accountable in coming elections – and they should.
Getting rid of the filibuster is just one step – but it’s the one that needs to be done now, before the debate over the DACA program hits its deadline on Feb. 8. Under DACA, which President Obama created by an executive order in 2012, about 700,000 illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children have been allowed to remain in the U.S. temporarily.
Once known as the "world's greatest deliberative body," today the U.S. Senate is a mess of arcane procedures and rules that allow a handful of Senate Democrats to block the president’s every move – they can even shut the entire government down when the majority was willing to act.
Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is part of the problem and that’s why I’m running against him. Hoosiers voted for President Trump by a margin of nearly 20 points. But like the other 10 Democratic senators elected in Trump states, Donnelly doesn’t care. He’d rather listen to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., than listen to Hoosiers.
Senate Democrats have obstructed the Trump agenda since day one. They have delayed hundreds of Trump administration appointments and refused to advance hundreds of conservative bills passed by the House, including major legislation like rolling back ObamaCare and the costly Dodd-Frank rules on financial institutions.
Passing the president's tax cut plan was an important victory, but it's one of few major policy achievements the Senate has accomplished – and that’s inexcusable. The House has passed 477 bills to advance the Trump-Pence agenda, and 378 of those bills are stalled in the broken Senate. The Trump tax cut itself only passed because Democrats had no procedural ability to stop it. If they could have, they would have.
Democrats have abdicated and given up on their responsibility to govern. It’s time for Republicans in the Senate to give up on the antiquated rules that give let the minority abuse its power.
First, we need to get rid of the filibuster. A majority vote should pass legislation.
If we got rid of the filibuster right now, the Senate majority could make a permanent decision on DACA, while tightening immigration laws and building a border wall in the process. The Senate majority would also likely have enough votes to repeal ObamaCare, protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and roll back overzealous bureaucracy to fuel the economy.
All 100 senators were elected in the last three elections, and all of these issues were debated in those elections. The American people spoke, and Senators should listen. But liberals in the Senate do not accept those results and they won’t listen to the people. They have proven their desire to stop the Trump-Pence agenda is greater than their willingness to govern.
Republican senators need to prove they are willing to govern even if the Democrats won’t, and that means ripping up the Senate’s ancient rule book.
Second, we need to stop minority abuse of the presidential nomination system. One senator should never be able to hold up a floor vote for any presidential nominee. And any judicial nominee should be guaranteed a floor vote within 45 days, with debate on that nomination cut from 30 hours to eight.
Democrats are using every procedural trick in the book to delay confirmations they know are inevitable. This is unacceptable, and it’s preventing President Trump from doing the job Hoosiers elected him to do.
Third, we should impose term limits in the U.S. Senate. The Senate doesn’t just have a leadership problem, it has a membership problem. By imposing a two-term limit, we can inject a sense of urgency in the Senate and hold our senators accountable for results.
Outdated and abused procedural rules have turned the U.S. Senate into a place where common sense goes to die. We can do better.