On Senate Rules

Having voted yesterday 79-19 to invoke cloture on the debate of the House’s Joint Resolution 59 as well as to authorize the Senate Majority Leader to defeat the House’s measure with a simple 51-member majority, it is reminiscent of what Coolidge once said of Senate rules. As Vice President according to the Constitution, Coolidge served as the presiding officer of the Senate from 1921 to 1923. It was, needless to say, an educational and preparatory time for him.

“At first I intended to become a student of the Senate rules and I did learn much about them, but I soon found that the Senate had but one fixed rule, subject to exceptions of course, which was to the effect that the Senate would do anything it wanted to do whenever it wanted to do it. When I had learned that, I did not waste much time on the other rules, because they were so seldom applied.”

Having successfully completed this show vote of fake opposition yesterday, most of this body can go back to “business as usual,” ignoring their constituents and trusting that time (and their voters) will forget what they have done by November of next year. Having voted to make funding Obamacare easier (79-19) they can tell their constituents they fought the good fight by voting against it in the next roll call (54-44-2). Conveniently omitting their role in empowering a 51-vote majority, they can hope to fool the people. Only 19 Senators refused to play this political charade.

It is worthwhile to recall Coolidge’s warning about the majority of these officeholders, “Nothing is more dangerous to good government than great power in improper hands.” If the Senate is to change its ways, it is up to us, the people, to send to it members of wisdom and character. Next year affords the opportunity to select or reject 33 of them. It serves us well to know who they are, for what they have voted and send them home if they are not faithfully representing us.


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