fresh voices from the front lines of change







Today in the Washington Post opinion section, Sen. Orrin Hatch called using Senate budget rules to pass health care an undemocratic affront to the Constitution:

This use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation, against the will of the American people, would be unprecedented in scope. And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government and damage the prospects of bipartisanship.


And that's just in reaction to a proposition to use the rules that are on the books -- not to make up new ones on the fly.

Which is funny, because making up new rules on the fly to give right-wing activists lifetime judicial appointments is exactly what Sen. Hatch wanted.

In an essay for the conservative Human Events magazine, Sen. Hatch wrote:

Four times during the 108th Congress, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, or end debate, on the appeals court nomination of Priscilla Owen. Had that happened again on May 24, 2005, [then Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist would have sought a ruling from the presiding officer [which would have been VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY!!! -- ed.] that, after sufficient debate, the Senate should vote on a judicial nomination. I would have joined a majority of my fellow senators in voting to affirm that ruling, re-establishing Senate tradition and making the judicial filibuster a thing of the past.

Recently dubbed the constitutional option [after Sen. Trent Lott's name "the nuclear option" backfired politically -- ed.], this is a mechanism for changing Senate procedures—without changing Senate rules—that has been used, directly or indirectly, for nearly a century ... I agree with Frist that, one way or another, whether by the self-restraint that once guided us or by the constitutional option, that tradition must return.

Sen. Hatch was flat out lying by saying such an act would not change Senate rules. The whole reason Lott called it "the nuclear option" is because changing Senate rules explicitly requires 67 votes, while you could illegitimately circumvent that by having Dick Cheney swoop in, decree a brand new rule, and affirm it on a partisan vote.

That proposal was absolutely about changing the rules through illegitimate means.

Whereas using the Senate budget rules to pass budget-related health care items is just that -- using the rules on the books.

Rules that Hatch admits to using in his own oped today.

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