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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

MOVING ON

Now that the $1.9 trillion recovery act is passed and the checks are going out, all attention is on the filibuster. It is obvious from the commentary on television that an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes negotiation is under weigh (as in “weigh anchor.”) Having no direct access to anyone more important than the building representative in my retirement home, I should like to make a suggestion that I am sure has already occurred to those who do this sort of thing for a living.

 

The problem is to move the three Democratic holdouts, Manchin, Sinema, and Feinstein. It is clear that Manchin is already moving and I think the odds are good that eventually we shall succeed. But in the meantime, here is my idea:

 

Let Biden bring up a very large infrastructure bill, the sort of legislation that is built for bipartisan negotiation. Then let Chuck Schumer propose quietly to the Republicans that the Democrats will bring back earmarks under the right circumstances. If Republican senators are prepared to negotiate honestly on the bill with the understanding that when an agreement is reached they will vote for it, then those who play ball will be permitted to add pet projects for their states. If 10 or more senators play ball, then the bill can be passed without the threat of a filibuster. If the Republicans play this game of proposing earmarked clauses, getting them passed, and then voting against the bill, the Democrats will send the bill back to the House where all of those clauses will be stripped from the bill and it will be passed in the Senate by breaking the filibuster. My guess is that Manchin would agree to such a plan and that Sinema and Feinstein could then be beaten into submission.

4 comments:

aaall said...

I see that Feinstein's husband has let the administration know that he is interested an ambassadorship.

The trouble with using an infrastructure bill is timing. The current passel of anti-voting legislation needs to be crushed before we wind up in a mess of litigation should these bills pass before a voting rights bill passes.

It would be harder for McConnell to tie up an infrastructure bill with earmarks following a voting rights bill following filibuster reform or elimination.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Alas, I see the wisdom in your comment. The next few months are going to be hard.

Michael Llenos said...

It's too bad the Founding Fathers never included 'filibuster' in the U.S. Constitution, or they most likely would have regulated it's use. Although the filibuster is really a Senate-creation for a long time it has been used as mainly a Republican political tool. The House Minority Leader, also at various times, has the right to speak as long as she/he wants which can also be seen as an unregulated-power but not as bad (or deadly) as the real filibuster-power in the U.S. Senate. I see two major problems with trying to cage this tyrannical-monster of the Senate. First the filibuster goes back to the time of the ancient Romans and the 5th century Code of Justinian, especially, and that is where Western laws and courts began. Although our Founding Fathers began the U.S. Constitution with Cicero sixty years before the first century--which is a time period that has some of the first recorded uses of the filibuster by Seneca the Younger's most admired philosopher Cato. And, second, if you try to put a leash on the filibuster law, e.g. a new amendment, restricting the use of what can and cannot be said during a filibuster speech, all any politician has got to do is say we have freedom of speech by the right of the First Amendment. I believe if you get rid of the filibuster it will come back up again like the Phoenix reborn since it has existed legally not just as a part of our Western political heritage but part of U.S. Senate procedure for well over a hundred years.

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