Government & Constitution

Nuclear option destroys the Senate

Nuclear option destroys the Senate

During the contentious Cold War era, the United States and the former Soviet Union operated on a theory of Mutually Assured Destruction. The Soviets were deterred from launching a first strike against the U.S., the thinking went, because they knew that the response would be immediate and devastating. We are facing a similar situation today in the United States Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) is threatening to launch a first strike against the core of the Senate’s standing rules – the filibuster.

If Reid fires that first shot, I promise to respond with my own rules change ideas that will expand the rights of all Senators to participate in the legislative process.

The Senate has long been a body that respects the rights of each individual Senator by allowing them to participate fully in extended debate and a free amendment process, regardless of whether they were in the majority or the minority.

Over the past few years, Senator Reid has used his power as Majority Leader to suffocate those two important traditions.  He has routinely taken actions to prevent rank-and-file members of the Senate from offering amendments to legislation; now, he is promising to attack the right of Senators to engage in extended debate by pushing a version of so-called “filibuster reform.”

If Reid launches this effort to break the rules to change the rules, the Senate will enter the functional equivalent of parliamentary nuclear winter for months to come. It will lead to even more divisive partisanship and ill will between colleagues.

What Senator Reid is doing is wrong. He is trying to break the explicit, longstanding rules of the Senate to revoke the procedural rights of all other Senators.

The Senate rules require 67 votes to shut down debate in order to change those rules. Senator Reid wants to change the rules by shutting down debate on a rules change with only 51 votes.  The theory is that the Senate is not a continuing body from Congress to Congress.  This is clearly wrong.

I will not need to be sworn into the Senate next year, because my six year term continues for another four years. My service to the Senate shall continue into a new Congress, because unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate is a continuing body. Our Founders intentionally designed the Senate to be very different from the House.

The Senate is not especially unique in this regard, either. Consider the Supreme Court—the traditional respect for precedent from decisions handed down throughout the Court’s history are not merely tossed aside when the Courts swears in new members. The presidency is also similar, as executive orders can continue from one presidency to the next.  Indeed, our Founders intended some of our government institutions to function as continuing bodies.

Back in April of 2005, Senator Reid agreed with me when he argued on the Senate floor that “to change a rule in the Senate rules to break a filibuster still requires 67 votes. You can’t do it with 60. You certainly can’t do it with 51.”

If the Majority Leader is going to push rules changes with a simple majority vote, I shall push some ideas of my own.

I pledge to fight back by proposing my own array of rules changes if Reid launches his first strike. I intend on offering a new rule to mandate that the budget be balanced each year.

Another idea I have is to offer a new rule making it virtually impossible for the Senate to consider a bill that violates the Bill of Rights. To use a recent example, under this new rule I would be empowered to raise a point of order against legislation allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens, as such a provision is in direct violation of the constitutional right to trial by jury.

If legislation restricing the rights of Americans to defend themselves with a firearm were to be introduced, I could raise a point of order forcing a two-thirds majority to approve that legislation.

These are merely a few ideas of the many I have been drafting up for Senate consideration next January.

Our Founders intended the Senate to be a body where legislation was slowed down and subject to improvement through extended debate and amendment. Reid’s proposed “reforms” would remove two of the most fundamental rights traditionally reserved to all Senators—to freely debate and amend legislation. I shall not stand for that.

The primary deterrent behind the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction was accepting that the very existence of both parties was at stake before any action was ever taken.

My hope is that Senate Majority Leader Reid stands down and works on a negotiated peace in the Senate.

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  • Phil McConathy

    I am so proud Rand Paul is MY Senator from KY. He is one of a very few who actually realize they were sent to the Senate to make the federal smaller , not larger. He needs a bunch of new Senators in 2014 and 2016 to have a chance to correct the major problem we have in America. The federal government doesn’t have a revenue problem, but a HUGE SPENDING problem.

  • NM Leon

    Don’t click on Rachael’s link. It is a known malicious site.

  • Tim Chew

    Reid can’t be God, Obama already thinks he’s God!

  • Reno Rivera

    My hope is that Senate Majority Leader Reid stands down and works on a negotiated peace in the Senate.

    When it comes to Reid, hoping that he behaves is a time-waster.

    Reid like Satan says in his heart, I’ll rule or I will ruin.

  • Cool_Arrow

    Again, you’re lying.
    A shift from 1.5% to 6% would not be “hyperinflation”. but it could easily crush our economy.

    Most of your life, Government bonds have been considerably higher than 1.44%

    Sorry you’re a sycophantic idiot.

  • Douglas Mael

    I wholeheartedly agree, and I would only hope that Mr. Paul runs for the Presidency (as a Libertarian or Republican).

  • Douglas Mael

    We need a LOT more like Rand Paul in both Houses of Congress!

  • Douglas Mael

    You may find out just how much you “don’t need” the Republicans (I happen not to be one, but I am firmly in Mr. Paul’s camp here) very soon …. as in the next 6 to 8 weeks!

  • Douglas Mael

    Mandating a balanced budget is a VERY good thing. Also, passing a Budget should be mandated. I fully support the notion of “no budget, no pay”, and also that if a Budget is paased late, that there shall be no retroactive pay to make up for that which was denied.

  • Douglas Mael

    Paul Krugman is a complete crank, who has absolutely no valid economic theories or positions.

  • Ed_USA

    Yeah, that’s what the Nobel committee thought too.

  • Ed_USA

    “Again, you’re lying.”

    What the hell are you talking about? Treasury bond rates have indeed been much higher in the past. Look at the rates in the late 1970s to see what they are like when people expect inflation to be high. Right now they are very low, and that is, in part, because people DO NOT expect inflation to be high. If they expected inflation to more than wipe out their interest rate, then they certainly would not buy the bonds at that rate, would they?

    You don’t know much about this stuff, do you?

  • Cool_Arrow

    Your reply is only tangential to the point I made.
    But you know that, don’t you?
    You’re the type of person who would tell his kids “Go back to sleep. I lit the sofa on fire so you kids could be warm”

    But you know the crash is coming. I just don’t know why you want to deny it. Your lord and savior, Barack Obama already won the election

  • GeorgeStGeorge

    Actually, passing a budget is a Constitutional requirement which the Democrats have ignored for four years. Reid refuses to bring up a budget, because A.) it would show the American people where the money comes from and goes, and B.) it would hold the Democrats accountable to KEEP it.

  • CaptainAhab

    It’s too bad that we don’t have more members of Congress like Rand Paul and Ron Paul, who take their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution seriously.

  • CaptainAhab

    The Nobel committee is a joke. They gave the prize to Obama who is bombing Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and who knows how many other countries, on a regular basis. Drone strikes that often kill innocent women and children. Tell me about the glorious “Nobel committee”.

  • Ed_USA

    “Your reply is only tangential to the point I made.”

    You made no point. You said that 6% inflation would destroy our economy, which is idiocy, and does nothing to explain why people are buying bonds now with an interest rate that is 1/4th of that.

    Perhaps you are playing stupid because you realize that you have been nailed. Or perhaps you really are stupid. Either way, you haven’t explained why investors would be buying 30 year Treasury bonds at 1.5% if they thought that inflation would rise to a level far higher than that during the life of the bond.

    Go and look up the phrase “real interest rate”. Try to grasp the idea that people don’t often buy bonds with negative real interest.

  • Libertylady

    Well said, Mike. When will these moribund, crony political hacks GROW A PAIR, be proactive, and FIGHT THE TYRANNY!!

  • Libertylady

    Maybe someone would take you seriously if you would learn some grammar.

  • Libertylady

    Melbo, You perfectly exemplify the low intelligence and moral level of leftists, incapable of making an intelligent and cogent argument. All you can do in your substandard argument is call names, and deserve a diaper and pacifier to shut you up. It’s about the age and maturity level you exhibit.

  • LoneWolf

    Rand for President… push those ideas now, and add term limits to the list please!

  • Cool_Arrow

    Once again, you are lying.
    There is a difference between “could” and “would”
    I understand your need to fabricate your retorts from pure distortion.

    I know a crash is coming because I’ve weathered two of them profitably, paying no attention to academically anal sycophants such as yourself.

    I knew about the $54 Trillion credit swap bubble before you even heard a rumor. Before that, I knew most of those budding Dot-Com companies were a deck of promises anybody could replicate with a few clicks.

    Obviously, you’ve got no skin in the market, or you’d be seeing the next crash.

    But there’s still a difference between “could” and “would”. There are other factors at play besides the interest rates.

    Keep whistling.

  • Ed_USA

    “I knew about the $54 Trillion credit swap bubble…”

    So you can read, eh? Nouriel Roubini was far from quiet about the mortgage bond crash long before it happened. Everybody knew that the .com crash was coming, but nobody knew exactly when, and nobody knew which .coms would survive. People who shorted too early got wiped out. Investment bankers who refused to play the CDO and CDS game got fired.

    But this is beside the point. Your predictions of hyper inflation are not supported by the actions of the bond market. From your bragging above I take it that you DO believe that the bond market is made up of idiots and that you are smarter than the lot of them. I rather doubt that.

  • Cool_Arrow

    You’re lying again.
    You incorrectly conflated “inflation” with “hyperinflation”
    You’re so balled up in your own misinformation, even you can’t believe some of the crap you post.

  • Ed_USA

    “There are other factors at play besides the interest rates.”

    For China that is true, but domestic investors are generally not so interested in buying high and selling low, which is what will happen to 30 year Treasuries if your hyperinflation prediction comes true.

  • Ed_USA

    Let’s go back to what you originally said, shall we?

    “Don’t remember having this conversation with you before, but it’s evident you’ve already insulated your faith in Obamanomics with any number of excuses as to why the system fails when all-consuming inflation begins.”

    Now, just what do you define as “all-consuming inflation”? Was that description of “all-consuming” meant to indicate something that would be moderate?

  • Melbo58

    FRED Flintstone, how does it feel to be a dying breed? Your privilege card was revoked 11/06 12. Have a miserable life.

  • Melbo58

    Total and complete gibberish. What the heck are you trying to say?

  • Cool_Arrow

    Jimmy Carter’s interest rates were high, but they were not “hyperinflation”
    Given today’s penchant for deficit spending, and your wish to increase the National debt, something less than what Jimmy Carter’s Administration could (not ‘would’) be that all-consuming inflation you don’t want to recognize.

    It often takes more than just a rise in interest rates to cause a collapse. But by all means, continue to believe there is no interaction among several factors, and continue to tell yourself “Well, good thing we don’t see “hyperinflation”.

    At some point, before we reach this “hyperinflation” you speak of, we will likely have our markers called at a lower rate, and you have already convinced the sick, the lame, the lazy, and the elderly, there must be more money because momma’s still got checks in the checkbook.

  • Ed_USA

    The point is still that bond rates are low. That does not point to substantial inflation ahead.

  • Cool_Arrow

    And a downgrade from Moody’s is insignificant.
    Yeah, I’ve heard this nonsense before.
    You can continue to believe in the soundness of this President’s economy, but your faith won’t make it so.

  • Ed_USA

    The Moody’s downgrade threat was not because of the debt. If you read what they said at the time, it was because Congress had shown itself to be so disfunctional that they were jeopardizing the economy. Moody’s said this:

    ““If those negotiations lead to specific policies that produce a stabilization and then downward trend in the ratio of federal debt to G.D.P. over the medium term, the rating will likely be affirmed and the outlook returned to stable,””

    They clearly don’t think that the debt is going to cause a crisis. The Congress, on the other hand, has become nothing but crisis. Oust the Tea Party clowns and you’ll fix the problem.

  • Cool_Arrow

    Now you’re trying to tell me debt has nothing to do with credit worthiness.

    You really do have this socialism bug bad, don’t you?

    You’re a teacher, aren’t you?
    You’ve got to be.

  • Ed_USA

    “something less than what Jimmy Carter’s …”

    Carter faced inflation that hit 13% If there was any prospect of getting even close to that, would anyone be buying Treasury bonds at the current yield of 3.12% for 30 year bonds?

  • Ed_USA

    I’m telling you what Moody’s said. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Let’s see the quotes where they said that they were considering a downgrade because the debt was just too high. Time for you to try some facts for a change.

    Our debt is quite high by historical standards, but it’s been higher in the past. It can be handled, as it has been in the past. We need tax reform, spending cuts, and growth, all in their proper time.

  • Cool_Arrow

    So you are a teacher, huh?

  • Tlb Scout

    Thanks, Sen. Paul, but he did it anyway. Time to get to work – for all of us.

  • Libertylady

    With your comment above, you simply make my point for me! Thank you! And have that diaper and pacifier on me, OK?

  • Ed_USA

    Nope. You don’t get much right, do you.

  • Cool_Arrow

    It’s OK. I wouldn’t admit it either.

  • Ed_USA

    “You think borrowing money from American citizens is the same as dumping your future into the hands of a communist government.”

    Hmmm, let me look back over the thread and see if I said that. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I suspect that you are spouting utter nonsense again.

  • Cool_Arrow

    I told you there were other factors.
    You ignored the differences between past deficits and now, focusing only on the interest rate.
    Not far-fetched at all.

  • GavinVolaire

    Senator Paul,

    Are your thoughts so far removed from serving the American people that you seriously just proposed doing things that are good for the US only if Reid goes your way on the filibuster?

    Nobody in your staff alerted you to how short-sighted and foolish you were going to look when you announced that you would be setting your upcoming agenda based on the actions of a single American — and a fellow senator at that????

    To say you will proposed a balanced budget bill if Reid tries to alter the rules on filibuster is as arrogant and insulting as it gets. It makes you sound every bit as divisive and uninterested in serving the interests of the American public as Reid is — but more importantly, are you promising you will not propose a balanced budget bill if Reid leaves the divisive tactic of the filibuster alone? If Reid obeys you, will you drop your threat to propose the Senate stop violating the Bill of Rights??????

    Shouldn’t you base your proposals on whether or not they are good for the US?

    For you to announce this “plan” to the public tells me you are beyond out of touch.


    A fan of yours until I read this

  • Ed_USA

    Let me try it again. The interest rate demanded by long-term bond investors very obviously reflects their prediction for future inflation. The current yield is 3.12%. That tells anyone who has the slightest understanding bonds that the consensus of those in the market is that inflation during the life of the bond will not cause them to lose money at that yield.

    None of your babbling about “other factors” changes that basic fact of bond investing. Unless, of course, those “other factors” include a sincere desire by all of those in the bond market to lose money intentionally. That’s not likely.

  • GavinVolaire

    Rand Paul did not say anything of the sort. If you read what
    he wrote with a more critical eye than that of a cheerleader, you will see his
    only promise is to Harry Reid. A promise to make a few proposals – bill of
    rights, balanced blah blah blah — unless Reid leaves Paul’s precious
    filibuster alone.

    Tell me your expectation of Paul if Reid leaves the filibuster
    rules as they are currently. Are you OK with Paul’s implied promise to Reid
    that he won’t propose balancing the budget or following the Bill of Rights?

  • Joe A Gonzalez

    While if full appreciate Rand for his thoughts I wish some in the Republican party would remember this is gun fight and stop pulling knives

  • Cool_Arrow

    Thank you for trying again.

  • Dan Hossley

    Destroy the Senate, hmmm….now there’s an idea worth considering.

  • Lovenia Johnson

    The jerk lied and pulled a fake kidnapping by the TSA,GOOGLE your POS lying “Honest” rich kid & see.

  • Expose Marxism

    Knives? All I see is spoons and a spork or two. Certainly no guns. The republicans are nothing but a shadow of the 1960s democrat party these days. GOP = DTM

  • Cool_Arrow

    So now that this Roubini guy is saying the same thing again about a global collapse, suddenly you’re not concerned, because it’s your lord and savior Barack Obama sitting on the throne.

    Yeah, your stupidity makes sense, in a sort of “Ed_USA is personal groomsman to the President” sort of way.

  • Ed_USA

    The recession that Roubini predicts would certainly help with preventing the inflation that you predict, now wouldn’t it.

  • Cool_Arrow

    So you admit a recession is what you really want? Brilliant.
    It’s what your lord and savior Obama wants too.
    You’re both stupid.

  • Cool_Arrow

    From your lips to Obama’s butt.

  • Ed_USA

    All I admit is that the bond market doesn’t point to the “all-consuming inflation” that you predict. From what Roubini says, there are good reasons to expect Europe and China to be in recession, which would obviously work against inflation.

    What’s really needed here is for you to admit that your grasp of economics is as infantile as the rest of your behavior.

  • 1goodbob

    Reid is the most evil man that we have had in the Congress for many years. His re-election is also suspect. He is responsible for the lack of things getting done in the congress. The pres. & he are the cause. Now he wants even more power to silence the minority.

  • Jeff Dauber

    I wish the Senate would accidentally get lost in its own irrelevance.