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Well, knock me over with a feather. It appears that Speaker John Boehner is showing some spine. A few months ago, the GOP developed a plan in response to Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty: Fund the rest of the government, then pass a separate spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would deny Obama the funds to implement his amnesty. The House did their part, and passed the bill. Now, as expected, Senate Democrats are filibustering it. What is a pleasant surprise is that the House leadership is standing firm, in the face of inconstant Senate GOP leadership and hostile media coverage.
So how to overcome the opposition? Hugh Hewitt argues that Republicans should follow in Harry Reid’s footsteps, and eliminate the filibuster. He writes:
“What’s more important, the Constitution or the filibuster?” is the rhetorical question being posed by key House conservatives led by the very able Raul Labrador. If you believe the president’s actions on immigration are actually unconstitutional, then Labrador’s framing is exactly right. Senate traditionalists will argue that the Senate is the Senate because of its 60 vote rule, but of course (1) there is no 60 vote rule in Madison’s design, (2) Harry Reid smashed the 60 vote rule anyway and (3) the left has spent years pointing that out and many Senate Democrats are on record in favor of invoking the Reid Rule again and again to clear away the remains of the filibuster that Reid did not already wreck.
The prospect of an epic and continuing clash between a Republican Congress sending bill after bill over to the president on matters large and small and the president vetoing them all would set up a choice for the country on 2016 that is both fundamental and necessary. Senators recoil from losing their minority rights, but as former Missouri Senator Jim Talent said on my show Tuesday, the country needs a lot of legislation passed if it is to be righted, a lot of legislation that won’t get 60 votes, so now may be the time to reform the Senate for the new millennium, and increase the speed of legislative action.
I think it’s a pipe dream — Mitch McConnell, the Republican who did the most to undermine House Republicans in the last government shutdown, will stand for Senate prerogatives now and forever, even as Reid and Obama hack the constitutional order to win their policy objectives.
But, on the merits, is it a good idea?
This is a choice between something bad and something worse. Obama’s executive overreach threatens irrevocable damage to the constitutional order. The constitutional remedy, impeachment, has been taken off the table. So which is worse — to allow Obama to shred the constitution, or to eliminate a longstanding extraconstitutional tradition? It seems clear to me: The GOP should not let fear of second-order effects stand in the way of addressing an urgent first-order problem.