The Iran Agreement: Why the Virtual Filibuster Must Die

When the Iranian Nuclear “treaty-not treaty- agreement” was on the table, the voice of the American people as expressed kerry bowsin their legislative houses was utterly muted. Why? Because an antiquated tool of the D.C. establishment, again, slit the throat of the people’s voice. The Democrats filibustered conservative resolutions condemning the absurd actions of a rogue executive branch.

That filibuster, though, was not in the old style manner of used by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. It was the anonymous, effortless, no-commitment style of the 1960’s push-button filibuster, a style of filibuster actually enacted under an LBJ Democratically controlled congress in 1975. To pass the legislation that censored the Iranian nuclear agreement, conservatives and constitutionalists should have killed the virtual filibuster and bid it good riddance forever, but they didn’t. Why not? It’s an elitist institution that contravenes the constitution by centralizing power in the hands of the few.

The time to kill this irresponsible filibuster has long passed. Because the push-button filibuster hides senate votes, it has allowed cowards to control our foreign policy and elite insiders to control our budgets.  Not only did cowards in the State Department seek to appease Iran instead of stand, the cowards in the Senate were able to avoid a vote entirely, keeping their corruption from seeing the light of day.

Marching in lock-step the Senate quashed the vote of the House majority. They simply silenced it, for a vote condemning the oil-rich, Russian-led, Iran appeasement bill simply could not be condoned. The Senate silenced Conservatives via the safe, censorship-proof tool of the “virtual” filibuster.

Since the Civil War, factional battle lines have never been so hardened. Into this climate of faction, enter mullahimmense executive power, tyrannical courts, a corrupt media and a largey unchecked federal bureaucracy composed of political hacks. How is a filibuster rule that effectively shuts the mouths of the American people of any value whatsoever? There is nothing good about any of this and, essentially, because of the 1975 cloture rules, the congress has become a dead letter institution allowing the other branches to become overgrown and hideous. End the “virtual” filibuster now.


One senator, a Senator Murphy of Connecticut, claimed that a veto fight would have embarrassed the country. This is proof that the cloture procedure has become a cloak of cowardice, censorship, and tyranny, for Palin-Rallies-Tea-Partiers-AP-Photo-640x480while a veto fight takes fewer votes than a cloture fight the liberals want no part of it. The liberals have no desire that the voice of the people is heard by their directly elected representatives.

A veto fight is the constitutional way the executive and legislative branches are to engage. The founders never envisioned the current fights over cloture as part of the legislative process. The modernized, no-commitment, liberal cloture, the push-button filibuster, is the way of the shiftless, corrupt, and irresponsible. The vermin are hiding in its darkness.

Kill the Filibuster or Congress is a Dead Letter Institution

The potential for a filibuster springs from the notion that any senator should be able speak as long as he wants on any issue. When a senator decides to abuse this liberty to block the people’s constitutional operations, his right to speak becomes a filibuster, an act of piracy from the Spanish filibustero.pirate

And piracy it is. This skull and crossbones have hung over our republic long enough. They weaken Congress so that the branch of our government with the power of the purse cannot control the nation’s debt.

The wanton pirating of open debate has become so bizarre that, recently, the surviving minority of Democratic senators used the filibuster to undermine congressional authority itself. By using the filibuster to thwart the Senate’s vote on legislation to override President Obama’s illegal use of Executive actions, Congress’s authority was utterly undermined. The people’s representatives in both houses of Congress have been completely silenced! Even if the House defunds the Department of Homeland Security, Obama’s executive actions remain in place. The only way for Congress to retake its authority is to end the push-button filibuster and put a bill on Obama’s desk.

There is nothing honorable about the filibuster. Emerging in the Old South as a bludgeon to slow racial equality, the “noble” history of the filibuster includes its metastasis into the current “push-button” filibuster. The “push-button” filibuster or “gentleman’s filibuster” can, in turn, be directly connected to the increase in the public debt. Beyond the legislative culture of selfish irresponsibility and arrogance common to both the deficit and the increased domination of the filibuster, the filibuster ties congress’ hands. Because of the Senate filibuster, congress can’t properly cut departments that the people know are failing. Even worse new legislation costs the taxpayers extra money in private, minority, pet projects that must be included in any bill passing through the Senate’s filibuster gauntlet. All of this increases the cost of getting anything done in congress at all.

Obama’s use of illegal executive orders, contrary to the will of the people, has completely ripped asunder the cloak of congressional authority and has demonstrated for the world to see that  the organ of the people’s voice, it’s elected representatives, has become, feeble, hollow, and docile.
rise-of-filibusterThe gentleman’s filibuster has been around since the U.S. Senate revised Rule 22 in 1975. From that time forward, no senator needed to speak for a filibuster to be in force. Today, one simply files a motion. Since 1975, then, a filibuster has no longer been a filibuster, an abuse of the constitutional liberty of free speech; instead, it has become simply an abuse of the constitution. Rule 22’s revision made it slightly easier to attain cloture and move legislation, but Rule 22 made it much, much easier to enact a filibuster. It is not surprising, then, that since the enactment of Rule 22, the number of filibusters has sky-rocketed.

The senate should be returned to the rules of filibuster made popular in the old black and white movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Because the push-button filibuster focuses final legislative authority in the hands of a small group of minority legislators, a larger number of votes must be “purchased” by the majority. These minority votes must vote against the will of their own constituents for the bill to pass. As a result they need bigger gifts to give their home states. Hence legislation is more expensive than it would be in a simple majority setting. Additionally, the last votes to break a filibuster are infamously expensive.otd-october-17-mr-smith-goes-to-washington-jpg

Consider the Obamacare debacle as an example of this rampant irresponsible lack of conscience. Liberal senators cashed in on their fellow liberal members. For instance, Senator Patrick Leahy’s vote took 250 million in legislative concessions; and Louisiana’s traded her Senate Seat for 100 million in concessions (some say 300 million); or Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, — 100 million; or Senator Ben Nelson (Mr. “to infinity and beyond” himself), –45 million; or the very independent Senator Sanders, (advancing communism in health care is not enough) — 10 billion in heath care centers. Nor does time allow us to speak of ex-Senators now lobbyists, of defense contracts and air bus bids, of nepotism and Caribbean resorts, of bankers, loans and bailouts. Even worse these are CBO numbers. Nelson’s deal sounds like it is worth far more than 45 million. The public option in the senate bill expands  Medicaid through Medicare’s destruction.

But consider this price tag! Some may call these bribes, others may call these deals the guts of the legislative “sausage,” others may say all of this is only wily negotiators seeking the best interest of their states, but, no matter what we call it, in one week of Obamacare legislation, the gentleman’s filibuster cost us, the tax payer over eleven billion dollars. It is not surprising then to note that the modern peace time rise in the ratio of the national debt to GDP directly parallels the increasing use of the push-button, gentleman’s filibuster.

The traditional filibuster rule, while also concentrating power with a small group of legislators, had the redeeming US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_Senate_Majority_Party_(1940_to_2009)quality of requiring one to put one’s character and constitution behind one’s belief. A weak and venal person cannot long harangue an assembly of his peers. Besides, the drama of such a filibuster today would draw the press and make a spectacle of our public policies. This makes for a far more entertaining newscast and for a sword of daylight that cuts (or at least used to cut) against corruption.

Today, the push-button filibuster is rendering congress useless. The huge majority surge that swept the congress from the Democrats has been completely halted in the senate by the push-button filibuster. The House can refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but that will not neutralize President Obama’s illegal executive actions. Perhaps it’s possible to save general legislative filibuster’s by the majority ruling that only filibuster’s of executive actions under judicial review are unconstitutional, but the truth is–who cares. End the monstrosity now. End it forever.

Harry Reid, in ending the push-button filibuster on judicial nominees has set the precedent. The vote on the filibuster rules, according to the courts, is itself filibuster proof — probably

If history has taught us that absolute power in the hands of single monarchs is a wretched evil, it now seems she is
obama_43liberally instructing her students that matters are even worse when such centralized authority falls on small numbers of men scrabbling for crumbs at the trough of the taxpayer. There seems to be a mathematical certainty that, in small packs, many will be weak, others spineless, and still others corrupt; that while virtue is the aspiration of man it is not his nature. Hence, the surest way to move the pack is to appeal to its vilest instincts. Even in better days it was the exception, not the rule, that an appeal to reason, virtue and the public good might win a legislative victory. Let the simple majority stand before the people with their drab excuses for their lack of performance. Let them no longer have the vail of the filibuster to hide their personal failures.


Nuke ANY Filibuster Protecting An Imperial President

McConnell’s Senate’s new rule should be, in essence: “ANY Senate Filibuster Aimed at Protecting ANY Imperial Presidency is unconstitutional.” This ends the current crisis, restricts presidential overreach, and keeps legislative filibusters alive for the sentimental.

McConnell has, now,  a clear way to separate the filibuster of this legislation from all other sorts of legislation the Senate may take up in the future. As of February 16, 2015, a federal judge put a temporary injunction on the very executive actions the House and Senate bill addresses. McConnell can generate a very specific rule on very specific pieces of legislation that involve specific kinds of executive overreach.

On February 11th, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that because the House legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was “stuck” in the Senate, the only alternative was for timperial-obama-decreehe House to amend the bill in ways that exclude language overruling President Obama’s illegal executive actions on immigration.

By ‘stuck’ McConnell meant that the Senate Democrats, despite the Department of Homeland Security’s need for the funding of its lawful activities, filibustered the bill. Don’t worry none of the 100 senators are suffering through endless diatribes led by Harry Reid or Barbara Boxer. (In fact it is unlikely that either ancient senator could muster much more than a fifteen minute speech.) This isn’t the Cruz style, Rand Paul style, common man’s talk-till-you-drop filibuster. No, this is the push-button filibuster that our gentrified political elite most love.  Harry Reid puts his magic kabosh on a bill and, whamo! That’s it. It’s dead unless the GOP can muster 60 votes.

On February 12th, House Representatives Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Rep. src.adapt.960.high.unaccompanied-minors_us_border_01a.1403194763483Mick Mulvaney called on McConnell to rewrite the Senate’s rules and bypass the filibuster that is holding up the Senate legislation. That’s not as simple as it may sound. When Harry Reid ended the filibuster for judicial appointments, it passed because the Senate Democrats voted that such a filibuster was “unconstitutional.”

On February 13th, the Senate fired back. Sen. James Lankford  said, “It’s one thing to change the filibuster on nominations, it’s another to change it on legislative action.” His point is that it once you declare the filibuster unconstitutional for one legislative action, the filibuster is ended for all legislative action.

Along these lines, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, responded with the worn out rhetorical question, “We should change 200 years of precedent?” In these circumstances, such a response is infuriating. The executive overreach by the President and his Department of Homeland Security is likewise unprecedented! Do something!

Besides, the Senate, despite all their elitist longings, is not the Supreme Court of the United States. They aren’t bound by precedent at all. They are to legislate. The filibuster has so weakened congress over the last half of the twentieth century that it is no wonder they are sitting ducks for both the executive and the legislative branches. However, that the organ of the people’s will has become so docile it begs the question of each senator’s allegiance to his or her constitutional responsibilities. DO SOMETHING!

Some believe that the push-button filibuster should be ended entirely, and that it does little but drive up the price of pork paid to individual senators when big corporations seek passage of crony legislation. Still, that doesn’t mean specific Department of Homeland Security bills would not be so much like other legislation that the push-button filibuster cannot be ended in tmr smithhis situation without being ended entirely.

The solution is plain. Declare any filibuster of any bill that contains language that overturns executive actions, orders, or regulations unconstitutional. Then let all other legislation proceed in it’s own ordinary byzantine and ludicrous manner through the twisted corridors of Senatorial power. Mr. Smith could still go to Washington, or at least the Senate could continue to pretend that the cloture procedure still has something to do with Jimmy Stewart’s immortal role.

A filibuster specifically aimed at legislation meant to thwart executive regulatory actions, actions not first envisioned or framed by a congressional law, should be declared unconstitutional. Such a filibuster strikes at the very core of a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Such a filibuster is shameless arrogance.

It’s been months. The funding for the Department of Homeland Security has passed. The case for halting the illegal executive actions has been so weakened that DHS has begun flying illegal border kids into the United States, literally right over the heads of the Texas National Guard surge, all on the taxpayer’s dollar. Once again the executive branch has picked the congressional purse in broad daylight. Congress must do something. They must kill the filibuster in whole or in part.