Chuck Schumer’s victory on the 2017 Omnibus funding bill will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to Congressional Republicans who have not adapted to the reality that they now control the White House with a President who expects that his priorities will be funded in September.
The Schumer victory in the current Omnibus funding “negotiation” spotlighted the three choices facing Republicans in any funding fight.
First, there is the current situation, where Schumer can dictate terms for what is in any funding bill simply by threatening to shut down the government using the filibuster process and Republicans are so scared of that prospect that they will automatically give him what he wants.
Secondly, the GOP can change the filibuster process allowing the priorities that the people elected them to achieve to be voted on and passed into law.
And, third, the 17 percent of the federal workers can be told to stay home as they are non-essential and the rest will have to wait for their paychecks until the dust settles and the funding priorities are settled as the government is ‘sort of’ shut down.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) came down firmly for option number one on the Senate floor when he said, “Our voters, the people who elected Republican majorities in both Houses and elected this president, did not vote for us in order to shut down the government. They voted for us to govern, as hard as it is.”
Somehow, I doubt they voted to give the GOP a majority in both houses as well as the White House to see them turn the gavel and veto pen over to Schumer on funding issues. Yet that is exactly what the GOP has done, and everyone knows it.
President Trump pinpointed the problem when he tweeted, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix [the] mess.” The President also correctly noted to Fox News that the “rules of the Senate are unbelievably archaic… and in many cases unfair.”
He is right on both accounts.
Schumer derives his power from those archaic rules which give his disgraced and rejected minority absolute control over anything that needs to pass into law, and most importantly allows the GOP majority to claim that they really would like to do something, but they need 60 votes in the Senate.
Stripping away the process excuse would force Republicans to actually govern. They would be forced to reconcile differences in their own Conference honestly to get to 51 votes and most importantly would expose those naked GOP emperors who have been hiding behind the rules when they really opposed the very agenda they campaigned on to get elected.
As we have discovered in the House on the health care bill, many of those same liberal Republicans who voted repeatedly to repeal Obamacare when their vote was meaningless, now are refusing to vote for a bill that leaves it essentially intact because they claim it goes too far.
Eliminating the rules and process artifices in the Senate will have a similar disinfecting impact by forcing those who pretend to hold conservative limited government positions at election time to have to cast meaningful votes for or against their bumper strip policy promises, allowing voters to know who really meant it, and who didn’t.
And for my friends who worry that if the filibuster is eliminated by this Congress that in some future world where the GOP is in the Senate minority, we will lose our protections, please wake up.
We have seen federal judges site campaign statements as justifications to change the law. We have seen the Democrat minority go to extreme lengths to preserve the status quo. Do you actually believe that they won’t end the filibuster to achieve their ends the moment they get back in power?
The game has changed. America is no longer in a friendly discussion where we are all on basically the same side. The left is rioting on campuses to shut down conservative speech. They regularly attacked and beat Trump supporters at campaign rallies. They used the IRS, Labor Department, and others to attack their political foes. And they spied on the Trump campaign and transition in an attempt to undermine the incoming Administration. It is time for the GOP Congressional class to pull their collective heads out of the sand and at least press President Trump’s agenda.
The GOP has this one chance to change the course of the country, and it is time to join President Trump in his call to end the stranglehold the Senate’s archaic rules have on any real reforms as well as confronting their irrational fear of allowing the Democrats to shut down the government.
Chuck Schumer has made it clear. If he doesn’t get his way, he will always opt for threatening to shut down the government or throwing the nation into default on the debt ceiling. It is time for Republicans to insist on their agenda and when Schumer balks, tell him to make their day. The issues are too important and the threats to our nation too real for our GOP leaders to continue surrendering without even firing a shot.
Rick Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government