Alexander: Reid Would Preside “Over the End of the United States Senate” with Change to Filibuster Rules

Posted on July 11, 2013

Says ending filibuster for advice and consent of presidential nominations would damage constitutional responsibility “that has gone on since the days this country was founded”

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“Most of the Founders of this country didn’t want a king, and they created a system of checks and balances, and they created a Congress. And they created an ability for us to restrain an imperial presidency.” – Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON, July 11 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to change Senate rules to end the filibuster, saying doing so would undermine the Senate’s constitutional role of advice and consent and mean Reid “presided over the end of the United States Senate.”

“Most of the Founders of this country didn’t want a king, and they created a system of checks and balances, and they created a Congress. And they created an ability for us to restrain an imperial presidency,” Alexander said. “And that’s what this advice and consent is supposed to do, and we should exercise that.”

Alexander spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Democrats consider what Alexander has called “breaking Senate rules to change Senate rules” to require a simple majority to end debate on presidential nominees, instead of the 60 currently required. Alexander said, “The advice and consent responsibility of the Senate has gone on since the days this country was founded.”

The senator cited figures from the Congressional Research Service to show that President Obama’s cabinet nominees are being approved as rapidly as were those of Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton. He said that no Supreme Court justice, presidential cabinet members or district judges have ever been denied confirmation through a filibuster.

Alexander said of Reid: “What he’s proposing to do is to turn this body into a place where the majority can do whatever it wants to do.” He also cited Reid’s own book, “The Good Fight,” in which Reid said that changing the filibuster rules would be a “Pandora’s Box” that “simply put, would be the end of the United States Senate.”

“I do not want Senator Reid to have written on his tombstone he presided over the end of the United States Senate,” Alexander said. “Yet, if he does what he’s threatening to do, that would be what he’s remembered for in the history of this country.”

Alexander said just seven federal circuit judicial nominees have been filibustered, five of them from when Democrats did so “for the first time in history” to President George W. Bush’s nominees. He also said that in this Congress, committees have not sent nominees on to the full Senate for consideration, and that “we could bring them all up” if Democrats in the majority wished to do so.

Alexander said that at the beginning of the last two congresses, he worked with Democrats and Republicans to make it easier for any president to have their nominees more easily confirmed by reforming Senate rules.

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