Where to begin with the latest from the GOP:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday starkly warned Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) not to eliminate the filibuster on presidential nominations, warning that he’ll end the 60-vote threshold for everything, including bills, if becomes the majority leader.
The minority leader sketched out what a Republican-led Senate would do with 51 votes. Job No. 1, he said, would be to repeal Obamacare. He also mentioned lifting the ban on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the estate tax (which he called the “death tax”).
“These are the kinds of priorities that our members feel strongly about, and I think I would be hard pressed,” McConnell said, “to argue that we should restrain ourselves from taking full advantage of this new Senate.”
A couple of things immediately spring to mind here:
- The odds of the Republicans taking over the Senate in 2014 are vanishingly small. They only have 46 members right now, in a country getting less white, less male, and less old, and yet they keep nominating really, really unpopular candidates.
- Even if they controlled the Senate, the Democratic Party still controls the White House. Should the GOP-led Senate and GOP-led House both pass things like a repeal of the ACA, the Senate wouldn't override the President's guaranteed veto.
- Where in the Constitution does it say the Senate needs a three-fifths vote to conduct its business? I would like filibusters to go away entirely—except for the Mr. Smith-style talking filibusters that require members to take a stand and hold the floor. In other words: Go ahead, McConnell. Make my day.
The sooner Harry Reid gets rid of the minority's ability to stymie the legislative process merely by threatening to filibuster, the sooner the vast majority of Americans will have a legislature again.