Michael Gerson: Obama's overreach
A second possible overreach concerns Majority Leader Harry Reid's threat — now endorsed by the White House — to change the rules for Senate filibusters. GOP senators already feel picked upon by Reid's practice of “filling the amendment tree,” making it impossible for them to introduce amendments to legislation. If Reid kicks off the new session in January by limiting the historical privileges of the minority — because the minority currently happens to be Republican — it will provoke a furious revolt. To get his rule change on filibusters, Reid would need to demonstrate that any Senate rule could be changed by a simple majority. This would make the Senate a smaller, more pompous version of the House, where the majority rewrites the rules every two years and the minority consequently counts for little.
At least in the short term, Reid would achieve little more than the humiliation of Republicans. An empowered Senate Democratic majority could pass 1,000 bills that would still languish in the Republican House. But Reid would succeed in provoking a constitutional crisis in the middle of a complex, continuing budget negotiation.
Either of these heavy-handed strategies — the budget overreach or the attack on the filibuster — could backfire. Taken together, they might light Obama's inaugural festivities in a glow of burning bridges. America has just ended a long, exhausting, divisive, dispiriting campaign, from which the president has apparently drawn this lesson: We need more of it.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP
Voices Photo Galleriesview all
- 36331Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 15449Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 9864Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 9824Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 9353Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 7992Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 7895Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister