“Must Pass” Legislation

Alan Blinder, he of Princeton University, has a piece on this subject in The Wall Street Journal. Among other things, he wrote

The resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security expires at the end of this month. Both parties want DHS to remain fully operational, but the bills passed so far include provisions that would roll back the president’s executive actions on immigration. Mr Obama has threatened a veto. If neither side blinks, members of the Coast Guard, the TSA, and the border patrol might soon see their paychecks suspended, though they would be required to continue working.

His entire piece went on in this vein, castigating Republicans for attaching such “extraneous” provisions to a number of bills, past and future in this Congress. He did so while ignoring the fact that the Democrats have done this in the past; both parties have. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s a hoary old way of getting lesser matters enacted: on the backs of larger ones.

He also ignored an underlying critical item. If the thing truly is “must pass,” then Senate Democrats must stop their filibuster, allow debate (on, for instance, the DHS funding bill), offer amendments, and then allow an up or down vote in the Senate. Following which the thing would go to conference (since it would then differ from the House-passed version) and an agreed compromise voted on in each house of Congress. Filibustering is the very sort of thing the Harry Reid Faction decried Republicans for doing the prior six years (and which both parties have done for the last century or so), and the very sort of thing that provided the excuse for the Harry Reid Faction to cancel the filibuster where it was inconvenient to the then-majority Democrats.

No. If the Democrats continue to block debate on must pass legislation, if they insist on their filibuster, the consequences are entirely on them. In the present case, if the DHS goes unfunded, then those Senate Democrats will owe their own paychecks to the members of the Coast Guard, the TSA, and the border patrol for whom Blinder shed his copious crocodile tears.

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