Sunday, April 9, 2017

Senators, Restore Democracy: Repeal Senate Rule 22

The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 5 states, “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.” Expelling a member is the only constitutionally mandated requirement for the Congress to use more than a simple majority to set its own rules. (Notwithstanding impeachment and amendment, but within the chambers themselves.)
The House of Representatives currently uses the original rules bringing votes on bills to the floor, called “ordering the previous question.” The Senate, however, abandoned the “previous question” motion in 1805, when Vice President Aaron Burr (the one who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel) decided it was superfluous.
Since the Senate is a much smaller chamber than the House, without a simple majority “previous question” motion, debate could continue indefinitely–theoretically, forever. There were still very few filibusters in the sense that we have them today. When senators attempted to restore the “previous question” rule, they tended to get (you guess it) filibustered.
It was only during World War I, when progressive Democrat, President Woodrow Wilson forced the issue as a “wartime measure” that the Senate adopted Rule 22, requiring a 2/3 majority for cloture. It’s never been repealed, although in 1975, the Senate lowered the bar from 66 to 60 (3/5 majority).
Read the rest from Steve Berman HERE.

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