The Larger Story of Senate Obstructionism

Lest anyone think this week’s agreement (shaky as it is) on the filibustering of seven executive-branch nominations has “solved” the problem of unprecedented minority obstruction of the routine business of the Senate, AEI’s Norm Ornstein issues this timely warning at National Journal:

The deal fundamentally gives Democrats, and the president, everything they wanted on executive nominations. Normalcy, for the moment, is restored. But if the larger web of norms that has governed the Senate is not at least partially mended—meaning, not just the diminution or elimination of unwarranted blockage of executive nominees but a reduction in the use of the Senate’s weapons of mass obstruction over judicial nominations and the routine requirement of supermajorities for all bills—the delicate organism of the U.S. Senate will be damaged again, and we will be back to confrontation. It will help if Reid continues to be more open on allowing minority amendments. But the real determinant of what kind of Senate we have, the big ball, remains in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s court.

And that judgment presumes Mitch McConnell was fully on board with this week’s deal, and can keep his Caucus on board as well–which as we are beginning to realize, is a very rebuttable presumption.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.