Class Warfare Blog

July 17, 2013

Advice and Consent Bullshit

The Democrats have once again failed at filibuster reform. They say they have succeeded because the Republicans have decided to go along with the Constitution and centuries of Senate practice for a while, but the rules are still the same and the Republicans can go back to their obstructionist ways at any time.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, said that if Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the trigger on the “nuclear option” to change the filibuster rules so that they could not be used to block appointments to the President’s administration, that he would be remembered as the worst Majority Leader in history, that the Constitution calls for “advice and consent” not rubber stamping of nominees.

Sen. McConnell’s logic is appallingly bad or possibly missing. By claiming that Republicans must be able to filibuster such appointments, he is apparently claiming that the thousands of nominees passed by the Senate by a simple majority were somehow mere rubber stamping exercises and only a super majority of 60 votes would constitute “advice and consent” of the Senate.

“The talking filibuster should be reinstated as the historical and traditional function of the Senate that it is.

Article II of the Constitution (remember the Constitution?) provides that the President “. . . shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Note that treaties require a two-thirds majority while others are “ordinary business” which for many decades were decided by simple majority vote.

To argue that the Senate can say “no” is correct (they must give their “consent”), but the common feeling on cabinet and administration appointments is that the President should have who he wants working them, unless there are really serious reasons to not have such persons on board. But this is not what the Republicans are doing. They are clearly trying to cripple some of the Executive branches functions (Labor Relations Board, Consumer Protection Agency, etc.) by denying them leadership, even sufficient members to function at all, which is an attack upon the separation of powers and must not be tolerated.

And the filibuster rules still need reforming: the talking filibuster should be reinstated as the historical and traditional function of the Senate that it is, for one.

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