The self-adulation of the Senate

The senatorial filibuster is all about increasing the power of individual Senators. Most of the arcane and clumsy rules of the Senate serve the same purpose. Around the bonfire of the vanites in Washington, the members of the United States Senate are distinguished by their absurd, even comical self-regard, and the filibuster feeds it.  A minority of Senators can block a majority of its own members, the majority of the House of Representatives, and the President.  That’s juice, and these popinjays live on it.

The Senate consists of 90 or so mediocrities, and a few very sharp cookies.  One of the latter is Ted Cruz, Donald Trump’s new pal.  Cruz took his whole family to the White House for dinner, and his two little girls have a nice photo of themselves with the President of the United States in the Oval Office.  Cruz wants to help Trump in the Senate, especially on health care, which is the first item on Trump’s agenda.  This is how bygones become bygones, and new friendships are formed.

After spending his first four Senatorial years pissing off almost the entire membership, Cruz has decided his best course is to make himself useful, and he wants to get rid of the filibuster.  Being a sharp cookie, he’s figured out that it’s merely an extra-constitutional road block to reform, and he wants to gut it.  I say more power to him.

The Constitution is chock full of checks and balances, and Congress has pretty much ignored them all.  The one check the Senate wants to keep — the filibuster  — isn’t even in the Constitution, but it’s the one they care about, because it empowers them, individually.  A pox on them.

Sly dog that he is, Cruz isn’t making a direct assault. He’s just making an interpretation of a provision in the 1974 Budget Act.  That law said that budgets couldn’t be filibustered, and Cruz is saying that the definition of what can be included in a budget bill is decided by the Presiding Officer of the Senate.  So if Mike Pence says that repealing and replacing Obamacare can be included in the budget, it can’t be filibustered.

This is the course that I have been urging on Alaska’s Senators for almost a year, with respect to opening ANWR, but this duo doesn’t seem capable of grasping this strategy, even though it’s been around for twenty years.

The Democrats would have a conniption fit, saying that if Obamacare Repeal and Replace can be included in the budget, then damn near anything would qualify.  And they’d be right.  This statutory interpretation would take one humongous bite out of the filibuster.  And it would pave the way for opening ANWR.

Maybe somebody ought to explain that to Murkowski and Sullivan.

A gorgeous afternoon here in the Gold Country, on what feels like the first day of spring.  The wildflowers are just starting to blossom, as the sun’s rays strengthen.  A beautiful full moon will rise right after dusk, and it’s a great day to be an American.

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