Radicals in Congress are frustrated and angry at President Joe Biden over the Senate parliamentarian’s decision to exclude the minimum wage increase from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House on Saturday. And the radicals believe it’s only going to get worse.
Many of the bills being considered in the House now may never see the light of day in the Senate because of legislative rules that have developed over centuries and were designed to protect the rights of the minority. Democrats didn’t mind those rules when they were in the minority. But now that they could get a simple majority in the Senate on just about any bill, they see the rules as anti-Democratic and designed to slow the progress of social justice.
They are blaming the president because he and some of his allies in the Senate leadership have forbidden the radicals from initiating sweeping rules changes that would allow them to fulfill their promises to constituents and radically transform the United States.
Progressives are warning that without making significant rules changes, they’re going to face a “Groundhog Day” of watching bills they championed — and their voters supported — pass the House but die in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats control the majority.
“It’s not just about minimum wage,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters. “Democrats made a lot of promises in winning the House, the Senate and the White House. And it’s going to come up again and again.”
Democrats, she added, face a choice: “Are we going to stick to these rules, or are we actually going to use the levers of government to work for the people?”
Specifically, she’s referring to the Byrd Rules, named after Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. The rules were put in place at a time when the budget was an annual war between Republicans and Democrats and the Senate was forced to consider dozens of amendments. In the end, little got done.
Byrd’s rules were simple; if an amendment didn’t have anything to do with spending or taxes or didn’t increase or decrease revenue, it was ruled “extraneous” by the parliamentarian. It allowed for “reconciliation” to bypass the filibuster only under these specific circumstances.
But the radicals think rules are for chumps and Republicans. When you’re carrying on a revolution, you shouldn’t be slowed by such a mundane thing as a rule.
Her ruling is a potential warning sign for Democrats who are hoping to use a second reconciliation package to pass an infrastructure bill, likely with climate change proposals that largely stalled when the Senate was under GOP control.
But the party faces bigger problems when it comes to passing its priorities outside of reconciliation, where they still need 60 votes to get most legislation through the Senate. In an evenly split Senate, where Democrats have the majority because Vice President Harris can cast any tiebreaking votes, the support of at least 10 GOP senators will be needed to clear procedural hurdles for legislation.
The solution for these radicals is obvious. In order to get gun confiscation, immigration reform, voting rights, and LGBTQ protections through the Senate, the filibuster has to go.
Even then, they would be hard-pressed to get a gun bill through the Senate, given the two or three Democrats who would oppose it. In fact, any bill the radicals want to ram through the Senate is going to be a huge challenge. But at least it would be easier if there weren’t any annoying little rules like the filibuster standing in the way.
These are not people who should be running a free country. They have a decidedly authoritarian outlook on government, believing that opposing them is tantamount to heresy.
With no respect for minority rights, the radicals want to dismantle 230 years of rules and traditions because the American people don’t fully support their agenda. And they want the freedom to transform America into their Utopia regardless of the cost to the American character.