Commentary

Poliquin: Time for U.S. Senate to Stop Obstructing

on

Our fellow Americans want Washington to fix the serious problems which are hurting our families and their jobs, and they want it done now. ‎I’ve heard this every day throughout Maine and beyond during my two years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

I’m just as frustrated as you are when bureaucrats, lobbyists, and career politicians kill common sense solutions to fix the mess in DC. 

One burial ground for good ideas is the U.S. Senate on the other side of the Capitol dome. Although I’ve joined forces with both House Republicans and Democrats to push through new laws to help our families, far too many legislative fixes die in Senate limbo.

To create new federal laws, the House and the Senate must pass the bills, and then the President must sign them. The House moves quickly with strict limits on debates and up-or-down votes. But, the current arcane rules in the Senate are different. Endless debates and filibusters often toss the House-passed solutions on the Senate shelf where they collect dust forever.

In the fall of 2015, House Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly, 269 vs. 162, to stop the reckless Iran nuclear deal. This dangerous agreement puts up to $150 billion of cash in the hands of the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian Mullahs. The Senate never even voted to approve or disapprove this crucial national security issue.

During 2015-16, House Republicans and Democrats voted to secure our borders, stop illegal entry, and defund sanctuary cities to protect our families and communities. The great majority of Americans passionately want these problems addressed. They never reached the Senate Floor for debate and up-or-down votes.

It goes on and on, and has for years. This obstruction of the Peoples’ work is so frustrating, and it’s wrong. Government should compassionately help our families by passing laws that fix harmful problems – not avoid making tough decisions.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can easily return to a federal government that helps our families instead of forcing them to throw up their arms in disgust. Debates can be thorough and votes can be cast in both Chambers, and then differences sorted out before sending the final product to the President for his signature. 

The People’s work can get done if the Senate changes its internal rules. End the 60-vote filibuster ‎threshold that prevents nearly every bill from even reaching the Floor where 51 of 100 Senate votes will then pass it.

We all know that a 50% + 1 majority vote passes almost anything at our local town meetings, and at our kids’ student councils. The U.S. House uses this same common sense process. It’s time the Senate does the same.

The status quo forces in the Senate argue that it’s prudent to allow 41 opposing votes ‎to be able to stop any legislation. It gives teeth to the minority. That’s true, but it also nullifies the majority will of the People.

During the 1890’s, Speaker of the U.S. House Thomas Brackett Read (from Maine) changed similar obstructionist rules in the Lower Chamber in order to pass legislation: “If tyranny of the majority is hard, tyranny of the minority is unendurable.” 

Our future is NOW. With a still weak economy, terrorist attacks at home, and a growing $20 trillion national debt, the American people are voicing a healthy dose of urgency to get things done. I agree.

A 51-vote simple majority rule to pass critical legislation in the Senate will help make it happen.

‎We Americans deserve a stronger economy with more good-paying jobs; fewer regulations and lower taxes; lower electricity, gasoline and heating oil costs; secure borders; legal immigration; welfare reform that protects the needy while encouraging work; and a Homeland safe from terrorism.

All of this is in our future if the federal government functions the way our Founders envisioned. That progress can start right now with a change of rules in the U.S. Senate.

Let’s get it done. 

About Bruce Poliquin

Congressman Bruce Poliquin is a third generation Mainer from a big-hearted Franco-American family. He was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee where he works on a wide range of issues related to providing oversight of the financial services sector and helping to grow the American economy. As your representative, Congressman Poliquin will continue to use his life, business and government experiences to help our hard-working families and businesses, create jobs and grow Maine’s economy.

Recommended for you

Comments