President Trump’s suggestions in a barrage of recent Twitter posts encouraging Senate Republicans to push forward on finding a solution to repeal and replace Obamacare, is reportedly being ignored by the senators.
The President had also stated that Republicans should abolish the 60-vote rule, and go back to a 51-vote procedure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly stated in May, “That will not happen.”
After the last failed healthcare vote last week, McConnell said in an emotional speech, “it’s time to move on,” and Monday he had indeed moved on beyond healthcare, never even mentioning it.
Many GOP senators fear that ending the legislative filibuster could have horrific results.
“I don’t want to lurch back and forth every couple of years from one extreme to the other,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Monday. “Those rules are there for a reason. They’re good. … They invite us to work across the aisle.”
Although ending the filibuster would allow Republicans to “leapfrog” Democrats on many legislative issues, they fear it could also backfire on them when they are in the minority and would no longer be able to block Democratic legislation they disagree with.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) indicated the issue on healthcare must be addressed again, saying after the failed vote, “No party can remain in power by lying to the American people, and I hope and pray that our party doesn’t try to do that.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.) said Monday, “We’re moving forward. Maybe set this aside while we do tax reform, but we have to continue working on his healthcare system because ObamaCare is a mess.”
A proposal is now being considered which would transfer more decisions on healthcare back to the individual states, and is being backed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). They have reportedly met with President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, as well as several governors about the proposal.
However, President Trump’s suggestion to do away with the filibuster appears to have fallen on deaf ears, as 61 senators had sent a letter requesting they preserve it after Republicans used the “nuclear” option on Supreme Court nominations.
A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure where debate over a proposed piece of legislation is extended, allowing one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as “talking out a bill” or “talking a bill to death”and characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body.
A filibuster in the United States Senate is a dilatory or obstructive tactic used in the United States Senate to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. The most common form of filibuster occurs when one or more senators attempts to delay or block a vote on a bill by extending debate on the measure. The Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose, unless “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn” (usually 60 out of 100) bring the debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.
The ability to block a measure through extended debate was an inadvertent side effect of an 1806 rule change, and was infrequently used during much of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1970, the Senate adopted a “two-track” procedure to prevent filibusters from stopping all other Senate business. The minority then felt politically safer in threatening filibusters more regularly, which became normalized over time to the point that 60 votes are now required to end debate on nearly every controversial legislative item. As a result, the modern “filibuster” rarely manifests as an extended floor debate. Instead, “the contemporary Senate has morphed into a 60-vote institution — the new normal for approving measures or matters — a fundamental transformation from earlier eras.” This effective supermajority requirement has had very significant policy and political impacts on Congress and the other branches of government.
Beginning in 1917 with the cloture rule and especially since the 1970s, there have been efforts to limit the practice. These include laws that explicitly limit Senate debate, notably the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that created the budget reconciliation process. More recently, changes in 2013 and 2017 now require only a simple majority to invoke cloture on nominations, although legislation still requires 60 votes.
One or more senators may still occasionally hold the floor for an extended period, sometimes without the advance knowledge of the Senate leadership. However, these “filibusters” usually result only in brief delays and are not outcome-determinative, since the Senate’s ability to act ultimately depends upon whether there are sufficient votes to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote on passage. However, such brief delays can be politically relevant when exercised shortly before a major deadline (such as avoiding a government shutdown) or before a Senate recess.
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