Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

A Senate without the filibuster might be a good thing

Imagine a paralyzed Senate. A Senate that gets nothing done. A Senate that can’t pass legislation. It’s like a dream come true!

It takes only one Republican to object to a request but a majority to overcome most objections. Mr. Schumer might at any time need all 50 of his members—and the vice president—on the floor to move things along. Likewise to override a flow of “points of order.” All day, every day. Republicans could flit in and out, and it would only take a handful of members to force roll calls for all these votes, eating up more hours. Democratic senators and Kamala Harris would essentially live at the Capitol, constantly on call. If even one was absent at a crucial moment, the Senate would essentially shut down.

Now add in “quorum” calls. Any senator can question, pretty much any time, whether the Senate truly has 51 senators on the floor (the vice president doesn’t count). It’s unclear whether a lone Republican could issue a quorum call, flee and stymie Senate business until the sergeant of arms rounded him back up. But even if that lone Republican stayed, quorum calls would eat up hours. The Senate secretary is required in each case to call the roll, of all 100 senators. Anyone who has ever watched C-Span 2 knows this takes ages.

There are even more creative ideas, but these tools alone would be enough to paralyze the institution. The Senate convenes. Quorum call. The presiding officer asks for consent to forgo reading yesterday’s journal. Republicans object. Roll call vote. The officer asks for consent to speed through “morning business.” Republicans object. Democrats move to get on an issue. Point of order. Roll-call vote. Quorum call. Republicans object to the motion. Roll-call vote. A speech. Quorum call. Etc., and so on, until adjournment.

Wall Street Journal
Image by Michael Helms from Pixabay