Standing Rule XXII of the Senate clearly states that “to amend the Senate rules… the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting” -- but none of that matters anymore.
Senate Democrats under Harry Reid changed the rules regarding cloture Wednesday on most presidential nominees with just a simple majority — an egregious power grab.
Never mind that the U.S. Constitution provides that “each House may determine the rules of its proceedings,” and that those very rules in the Senate had been legitimately enacted.
Forget that this particular rule had stood for 96 years.
It’s all meaningless.
This is the law of the jungle now.
If Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has any respect left for the institution of the Senate, he will shut that body down completely.
Even the most mundane business in the Senate requires unanimous consent. Going forward, McConnell should deny such consent — on everything. Force Reid to achieve cloture for every gavel, every motion, every change of the calendar.
And then deny him that cloture. Nothing gets done.
That is, unless and until those rules are changed back and any false confirmations that result are nullified, including the appointment of Patricia Ann Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
That’s what Harry Reid would do.
If the shoe were on the other foot, there would be hell to pay. Now it is up to McConnell to make certain that there is.
Dare Democrats to roll back cloture rules on everything else, too. And when they do, Republicans should take their case to the American people.
That when push came to shove, it was Reid and the Democrats that broke the Senate.
So be it. Because it doesn’t matter anymore. All bets are off.
In the meantime, the legitimacy of Millett on the D.C. Circuit Court should be challenged immediately all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. If nothing else, it must be challenged for the sake of the rule of law.
Force the Obama Administration to defend the destruction of the Senate as a meaningful check on the executive branch.
If this is how Democrats want to rule and impose their will on the minority party, let “the end justifies the means” be their campaign slogan in 2014 and beyond.
If the courts ultimately deem Senate rules to be a political question with which the Senate has discretion, that they can be amended by whatever margin the current majority prefers, then so be it.
The cooling saucer of the Senate will have been forever shattered.
If majority rules is the new rule of the Senate, if this stands once all court challenges have been exhausted, fine.
Then whenever Republicans regain the majority in both houses of Congress and the White house, all it should take to repeal Obamacare is a simple majority in both houses of Congress.
No more 60 vote thresholds.
All it should take to undo the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon endangerment finding, and every other economy-killing regulation from unaccountable executive branch agencies are simple majority votes in the House and Senate.
All it should take to audit the Federal Reserve completely and fully, and to rein in its $1 trillion a year subsidy to banks — almost half of them foreign — or to balance the budget, is a simple majority.
All it should take to get strict constitutionalists on to the Supreme Court is a simple Senate majority.
In short, all it should take to undo all the damage of the past century of big government is a majority.
If supermajority thresholds cannot be justified for presidential nominations, then how do we rationalize them on other matters?
It is up to Republicans in the Senate led by Mitch McConnell to make Harry Reid pay for this. To regret the moment he thought that his will alone could trump the constitutional rule of law. To rue the day he ever believed that Republicans would never be in power again.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government, a conservative political advocacy group.