The Worst Possible Scenario: A Republican House And Democratic Senate!

History has taught us that the worst possible scenario in Congress is a Republican House of Representatives and Democratic Senate.

Since 2011, we have had this scenario, and it has been a total disaster as the GOP has made it impossible to deal with the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The last time we had such a scenario is a century and a half earlier in 1859-1861, when James Buchanan was President, and the GOP was a new party, and anarchy and chaos reigned in the nation’s capital.

When we have had a Democratic House and Republican Senate as under William Howard Taft (1911-1913), Herbert Hoover (1931-1933), and Ronald Reagan (1981-1987), all Republican Presidents, some progress and cooperation has been possible.

Notice that when Buchanan was in office, and Obama now, it was Democratic Presidents facing an impossible situation with a party dedicated to no cooperation at all on anything!

While the Republican Party of the 1850s was more to be admired for principles, the fact is that Republican control of the lower House has led to stalemate and gridlock.

One could argue that even if the GOP won the Senate, it would not change things much, as the requirement for a 60 vote majority to invoke cloture and overcome a filibuster makes the Senate always a problem in any situation, but the power of the purse in the House makes that chamber MORE important to control.

So for Obama’s last two years, control of the House, which brought about more productivity in 2009-2010 than any modern Congress, and was under Democratic control, is more urgent than control of the US Senate.

And when the opposition party has controlled both houses of Congress, as has occurred a lot in recent history, much more gets done than in a split Congress.

These are the facts of Congressional history, like it or not!

The Abuse Of The Filibuster By The Senate Minority: Time For Reform!

As the political year ends, the record shows that the use of the filibuster tactic by the Republican minority in the US Senate has reached an all time high.

It used to be that the filibuster was utilized by Southern Democrats opposed to the passage of civil rights legislation.

Now it is used as a weapon to stop ALL action in the Senate, with simply the threat of a filibuster preventing progress on legislation, or presidential nominees for the federal courts and other offices.

The number of motions for cloture has doubled in the past few years, and has nearly quadrupled since the 1970s and 1980s, and was used in the single digits until the 1970s.

It used to be that mounting a filibuster meant a group of Senators taking turns in speaking on the floor for hours and hours, while now just the threat stops action.

Is this proper use of the filibuster, just to say a group will mount a filibuster, and all action is paralyzed as a result?

Of course, the answer is no, so the Democratic majority and Senate President and Vice President Joe Biden will have one chance to change the rules of the Senate, on opening day of the 112th Senate on January 5, 2011.

The move to reform the filibuster is being led by junior Democrats, including Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Mark Warner of Virginia. But senior Democrats, including Tom Harkin of Iowa and Carl Levin of Michigan also back the idea of reforms.

The problem is to realize that the Democrats could be in the minority in the Senate in 2013, and the desire to retain influence if they are the minority, so tinkering with the Senate rules on the filibuster, as well as other tactics, such as the ability of one Senator to use the “hold” tactic on action, must be carefully considered, so as not to reverberate on the Democrats in the future times when, inevitably, they will NOT be the majority!