EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Conservatives, Not Liberals, Are the Problem
Our best allies in Congress are actually the problem these days. They have stood by while bad bills have passed into law. It’s true that they have fought courageously against bigger government, but it’s not enough to just oppose bad bills. Conservatives need to block them. And they have all the power they need to make that happen, despite being massively outnumbered.
Here’s what they need to do, and outside groups and the grassroots need to help them achieve it. It is time for conservatives in the House to take down a rule. It is time for conservative Senators to pledge to filibuster everything under the Sun.
Let’s start with the House first. Andy Roth of the Club for Growth wrote on Red State in early January that House Republicans need to take down a rule. Roth explained how the rule works.
Consideration of all legislation in the U.S. House is dictated by the Rules Committee (chaired by Rep. Pete Sessions). Before a bill is debated on the floor, the committee creates a rule for that bill. That rule establishes what amendments will be considered, how much time will be debated, etc. After the committee agrees on the rule, it is voted on by the entire House. If the rule passes, then the House debates the underlying bill. If the rule fails, then the bill goes nowhere. When Republican freshmen come to Washington for the first time every two years, House leadership immediately drills into their heads — “Always, always vote with the party on rules.” The substance of the underlying bill is irrelevant.
To put it simply, if you kill the rule, then you kill the bill. So it’s only logical that if you oppose the underlying legislation, you should also oppose any procedural votes that enable the bill’s final passage. But House conservatives support rules on bad bills all the time. This needs to stop.
As Andy Roth further explained:
In 2012, the House held recorded votes on 42 separate rules. They all passed with near unanimous support among Republicans (the average vote was 231-1). This included rules for the bloated Highway bill (232-2) and the big “fiscal cliff” tax increase (232-2). In fact, had House conservatives voted against these rules like they voted against the final passage of these bills, they would have blocked both plans from ever becoming law! This is why voting for a rule on a bill you oppose is like letting a thief into your home and then letting him steal all your stuff, despite your opposition. If you go back further in time, House conservatives could have blocked No Child Left Behind, the 2002 Farm Bill, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, and the 2011 debt deal – just to name a few — if only they had voted against the rules in the same way that they opposed those bills. It’s amazing, really. The conventional wisdom is that, unlike in the Senate, individual House members have very little power because they are merely 1 out of 435. But a small group of committed House conservatives can not only oppose bad legislation, they can BLOCK it from ever passing. For the 2013 legislative session, the power to block all bad legislation requires only 16 brave House Republicans.
So why do House conservatives support the rules on bad bills? Because leadership tells them to. And they fear that they will get punished for crossing leadership. But our allies need to be made aware that saving our country strongly outweighs preserving allegiance to leadership hacks. And we will be there to support them if they choose to fight.
Now let’s move onto the Senate. The fiscal cliff deal was cut without Senators having any opportunity to “read the bill.” Why didn’t one conservative Senator stand on the floor and say the words, “I object?” It is because they have not learned how to fight yet. When are Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) going to finally stand up to a leadership that is in the process of destroying the Republican brand? What are they waiting for? They need to filibuster everything in order to leverage the opportunity to amend bills and engage in extended debate.
Senators can filibuster all legislation until the Democrat and Republican leadership stop conspiring to pass bad legislation. Demand number one is to allow bills to be on the Senate floor for a few days and will a real opportunity for amendment. Also, conservatives need to demand of their own leadership a hard promise not to cave on gun control, tax hikes, the next debt limit, the CR and new spending programs. Conservatives need to filibuster until they are treated fairly by the Democrats and not stabbed in the back by their own leaderships deal cutting.
The Senate leadership laughed at Tea Party minded Senators when they cut a tax hiking fiscal cliff deal and dared conservatives to object. The House leadership dared Tea Party minded Representatives to take down the fiscal cliff deal. The Tea Party Members of Congress did nothing. Voting no on bills that hike taxes, increase borrowing, and increase spending is not enough. Conservatives demand action.
If conservatives in the House and Senate don’t step up and fight soon, maybe we need to rethink our love of those members. Voting no is not enough, because it shows that Conservatives are not willing to use all parliamentary tools to kill bad legislation. They need to stand up to Republican leadership as a means to save the Republican Party from establishment hacks who only care about their own next election and their Committee Chairmanship.
Call your House member and both Senators to specifically demand that the House member take down a rule and the Senators filibuster everything. Then come back to Red State and report back what members are saying. Specially target conservative offices so they get the message that they need to stand up to leadership and the establishment conservative media protecting them right now.