Tommy Tuberville and the future of the single senator veto

Since February, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has blocked votes on any U.S. military personnel recommendations that require Senate approval. confirmation.By the end of the year, the impact will reach about 90 percent of America’s most senior military personnel. Commander.

Numerous critics across the political spectrum say Tuberville’s actions pose a threat to national security, reduce military readiness and damage morale. In a joint letter, the seven former defense secretaries declared that “there is little that could be considered irresponsible or inconsiderate.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with several other Republican senators, also opposes his “blanket hold.”

Tuberville, who has never served in the military, argues that the U.S. military has “too many officers.” And he has insisted he will not relent until the Pentagon “wakes up.” claimDespite the lack of evidence, the bill may be promoting “post-natal abortion” – suspending leave and travel benefits for military personnel who cannot obtain an abortion in the state where they are stationed.

Tuberville achieved nothing for nine months Said His Republican colleagues said on Nov. 29 that they would get him out of “this mess,” but they did not say when or how. The next day he Admitted “These people need to be promoted,” he said, promising to grant them promotions “in the near future,” but “we don’t know how many at a time.”

Mr. Tuberville’s single-senator veto relies on arcane procedural rules. In the House, the Rules Committee sets guidelines for debating, amending, and voting on bills. In contrast, the Senate requires “unanimous consent” for most nominations and bills to be brought to the floor. Mr. McConnell once joked that the Senate would need unanimous consent to “turn on the lights by noon.”

That’s because picking up each Pentagon nomination one by one would tie up the floor. Month, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked for unanimous consent to consider them together, but Tuberville’s objections removed them from the calendar. Resolutions that withhold unanimous consent are subject to a filibuster, but so far it appears that not enough Republicans are willing to trigger a “prorogation” motion to proceed to a vote. Recommendation.

As Tuberville’s congressional maneuvering shows, unanimous consent, suspension, and the filibuster impede the will of the majority, increase partisan polarization, reduce the Senate’s ability to do its job, and allow senators to decide whether or not to approve a bill. prevent discussion. It’s time to end these harmful practices.

It is important to note that none of these (nor the provision for unrestricted debate in the Senate) originates in the Constitution. actual, federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton wrote that “if an implacable minority could control the opinion of the majority,” national legal proceedings would “keep idle.” And a weak government, “at times bordering on anarchy,” will be unable to carry out “public works.”

“Universal consent” is introduced Introduced in the Senate in the 1840s by Senator William Allen, who defined the term as “a conversational understanding that a protracted discussion will come to an end after a certain amount of time.” In 1914, what had been a “gentleman’s agreement” became a formal mechanism for introducing legislation directly to the Senate. calendar. In the decades that followed, universal consent was used “as a formality” to facilitate consideration of mundane matters for which bipartisan majorities were almost certain to agree.

Ironically, national consent is now a weapon backed by the implicit threat of a filibuster, allowing hostage-takers to use such considerations to extract concessions on their own priorities that do not belong to the majority. It is possible to delay the

The Hold is the fraternal twin to universal consent and has been in the form of the Hold since the 1980s. request If an individual senator determines that the majority leader will not introduce the bill or approval; candidate. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) during a protest against the indictment of former President Trump in 2023. Hold Regarding appointments to the Department of Justice. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to pressure the Biden administration to propose a plan to lower prescription drug prices. Hold About candidates for health-related positions.

of filibuster The elephant in the Senate chamber, of course. The Senate’s first formal debate limits were established in 1917, when the closing rules allowed a two-thirds majority to proceed to a vote. In 1975, this standard was lowered to three-fifths of his. In recent years, the Senate has allowed a “silent” filibuster, which occurs without senators holding the floor.

As a result, the filibuster was significantly increased and applied to most Senate business. In 60 years from 1947 to his 2006, 960 closing action It has been submitted. And the Senate is the only legislative body in the world that requires a supermajority to pass “regular” legislation.

The filibuster, intended to delay the introduction of impending legislation and ensure careful consideration, is often a means of blocking it by politicians who prefer partisanship and paralysis to governance. It seems too much.

So what can you think of? end• National consent and reservations should be abolished, and the Senate Rules Committee should be given the authority to work with the majority leader to set calendars, amendment guidelines, and time limits for debate. Few Americans realize that the filibuster has been revised 161 times since 1969. Military base closures, arms sales, expedited trade deals, the budget reconciliation process, and federal judge approvals are no longer subject to the filibuster.

So there is ample precedent for the Senate to add additional legislation to its list that includes voting rights. Senators must either set the threshold for adjournment to 55 votes or reduce the current number required by three for each adjournment until the bill passes with 51 votes.

Americans are proud of our political system, which combines majority rule with minority rights, and rightly so. But eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, so now seems like the right time to take a hard look at unanimous consent, suspension, and the filibuster to strike a balance between them.

Glenn C. Altshuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is co-author, with Stuart Bumin, of Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.

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