This Is the End of the Senate. It’s Harry Reid’s Fault.

Sen. Lamar Alexander

The United States Senate is starting the New Year the same way it ended the last one: with the Democratic leader bringing up legislation that hasn’t been considered by committee, then threatening to cut off amendments, cut off debate and cut off votes.

First, it was unemployment insurance. Next, it will be minimum wage. Avoiding committee consideration, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) explains, avoids “embarrassing amendments.”

The Senate, “the one touch of authentic genius in the American political system”—as William S. White described it in Citadel: The Story of the U.S. Senate—is destroying itself.

In their 2013 book, The American Senate: An Insider’s History, former Senate historian Richard A. Baker and the late Neil MacNeil say the principal source of this “genius” has been the opportunity for extended debate. If 60 of 100 senators must agree to end debate, usually this encourages consensus on crucial issues. “Whatever the unsavory aspects of the word and the tactics,” Baker and MacNeil write, “the filibuster then and later helped shape the Senate into the most powerful legislative body in the world.”

Referring to the filibuster in 2010 during his final address, former Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Robert Byrd warned, “We must never, ever tear down the only wall—the necessary fence—this nation has against the excesses of the executive branch and the resultant haste and tyranny of the majority.”

Yet today’s Senate is destroying its capacity to forge consensus, to protect minority views from popular passions and to counter presidential excesses by…



The article continues at Politico.



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