Friday, November 04, 2011

Have Senate Cloture Votes Contributed to the Growth of Government?

Have Senate Cloture Votes Contributed to the Growth of Government? Huffington Post

The statement at issue:

"This month, Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democrat colleagues voted to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote of 51 to 48. Most people would simply shrug and think, "So? Isn't that the way democracy is supposed to work?" For the past 222 years in the U.S. Senate, the answer to that question has been no....The Senate, in particular, was designed to limit the growth of government....The cloture vote made it easier for government to grow, and, guess what, government grew...The introduction of the cloture vote has certainly proved effective at hampering the Senate's ability to limit the size and influence of the government."
Comments by Sen. Ron Johnson, a freshman Republican from Wisconsin, who was elected with strong Tea Party support, in an op-ed column in the Washington Post on October 23, "Why the Senate Needs to Return to Requiring Supermajorities."

We checked the Constitution, and...

The freshman Senator's comments follow in a sturdy tradition in that chamber, equating the long history of unlimited debate with a supposed design of those who wrote the Constitution to ensure the rights of the Senate's minority by assuring unlimited debate. By referring to a 222-year history, Sen. Johnson obviously was making a claim that that tradition traces back to the founding in 1789. It is true that for decades after the founding the Senate had no limits on debate. The Constitution, however, says nothing about Senate debates, leaving that entirely to the Senate's power to write its own rules, under Article I, Section 5, Clause 3. And, under those rules, the Senate has been limiting debate since 1917, when it adopted its first anti-filibuster rule. Such a rule shuts down debate, and thus is called a "cloture" rule. ...

Read the rest here.

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