At some point, the post-election conniption fits will subside, and it will be time for all sides to figure out a path forward. A freshly sworn-in Congress will be poised to consider an ambitious agenda from the new president.
Many Republicans who were skeptical, if not outright hostile, during the campaign are now suddenly on board with the Donald Trump win, having seen his appeal outdistance their own.
Democrats, once they shake free from shock (and, we can hope, its accompanying insults of the president-elect and his voters), can be expected to armor up for battles they did not envision.
All of this is well and good. The sooner everyone realizes this is just the latest chapter of our venerable process, the better. But if there is real change in the wind, if voters are to have a chance at seeing the new directions they have demanded, there is a necessary step that will energize some and unnerve others, and not necessarily along party lines.
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The Senate filibuster rules must change. It is time to ditch the 60-vote cloture standard for cutting off debate and letting Senators vote. The argument for the cloture supermajority is that it takes debate beyond the simpler marketplace of garnering one vote more than half. As conceived, it invites pauses for reflection, deliberative heavy lifting, the obligation to make a case so compelling that it can generate 10-vote margin.
It was Democrats who found that inconvenient in 2013, creating an exception for executive and judicial branch nominations apart from the Supreme Court.
Now it is time to prevent what would otherwise be a festival of obstructionism across a wide landscape of issues, a resistance fueled with Democrats’ claims that the Trump agenda must be stopped. Breathless senators would surely deliver hand-wringing speeches invoking the small but loud corners of unhinged protest, as if this was some signal of widespread discontent.
Let’s see how much discontent there really is, in a fair-and-square majority-rules environment. Before we even get to a Supreme Court nominee.
If House Speaker Paul Ryan has awakened from his campaign slumber to discover the sufficient energy to move the House forward on issues from health care to energy policy to regulatory reform, those bills deserve to see the light of day, rather than ram up against a wall of Senate Democrats’ spite.
Democrats will recoil at this, but so will some Republicans, especially those who have served a while, in both majority and minority Congresses.
They will rightly point out that the barrier they remove today to facilitate their agenda is a barrier that will no longer allow them to slow Democrats’ bills in the future.
Some will even say the 60-vote barrier can be a motivating tool, enabling Republicans to argue for winning more Senate seats so they can get to the magic 60.
I hope I can be excused for sizable skepticism that most of the current crop of Republicans can effectively make that case.
An inspiring but questionable legend features George Washington arguing for two houses of Congress using the metaphor that the House is where legislation is brewed, with the Senate as the saucer in which it cools. Good-faith deliberation is one thing, and at the moment, a nearly extinct thing. It is a time for boldness.
All it takes to change the filibuster rule is 51 Senate votes.
Contact Mr. Davis at markdavisshow@gmail. com.