Senate Democrats Subvert the Rules of Order
We can only hope the Senate Republicans learned their lesson today.As so many of us have tried to tell Mitch McConnell for weeks and weeks and weeks, the Senate GOP must throw everything they can at killing the health care bill. Instead, we have seen the Senate Republicans working collaboratively with the Democrats on a series of messaging amendments that no one has paid attention to.Finally, Senator Tom Coburn decided to fight. Yesterday, Senator Sanders of Vermont introduced a 700+ page amendment and asked for unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.Senator Coburn objected.The Clerk began to read the amendment.But then something curious happened — something that violates the sacrosanct nature of the Senate’s rules; rules so inviolable that until yesterday neither Democrat nor Republican ever risks crosses the rules in over 200 years.In short, the Democrats have now crossed the rubicon. For over 200 years, the Senate’s rules have ensured orderly and very fair debate. The minority has rights that the majority has never and would never trod upon. One of the chief rules of the Senate is that when one Senator has the floor, no other Senator may act.Tom Coburn had the floor. He made the clerk read the amendment. Somehow, however, Senator Sanders was able to have his amendment yanks mid-reading.Under Senate rules, that is flat out impossible.Riddick’s the guide used by the Senate for instruction on how to apply parliamentary procedure is very clear.
Under Rule XV, paragraph 1, and Senate precedents, an amendment shall be read by the Clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted; in practice that includes an ordinary amendment or an amendment in the nature of a substitute, the reading of which may not be dispensed with except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order.
Because the amendment had to “be read,” “further interruptions [were] not in order.” Despite that very clear language and past precedent, the Senate Democrats chose to recognize Senator Sanders and pull the amendment.Hopefully the Senate Republicans now realize they are dealing with third world kleptocrats, not American legislators. Mitch McConnell’s “messaging” strategy bought the Democrats time to cut a deal and now the Democrats are willing to throw away over 200 years of Senate tradition and order to confiscate 1/6th of the American economy from the private sector.The irony is that after Senator Coburn decided to fight, Mitch McConnell sent out his staffers to take the credit. Considering I put up my post this last Saturday entitled “Fight,” I think I deserve more credit than Senator McConnell.