The U.S. Senate class of 2014 gathers for “orientation” this week, and the hallway talk will be of committee assignments — with a few quiet conversations about the filibuster.
The GOP Class of 2014 resembles the most successful draft by any NFL team in memory. Not only were the GOP winners of great quality, they bring such a variety of skill sets that their roles in the Senate seem almost pre-ordained.
Three veterans of our long war with the Islamists — Rep. Tom Cotton from Arkansas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Dan Sullivan of Alaska — seem destined for Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs, and Cotton and Sullivan, lawyers of great accomplishment and study should join Judiciary while Ernst should be on Agriculture.
Two men of the west, Rep. Steve Daines of Montana and Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and the lady from West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, are naturals for Natural Resources and their colleague from the region, Rep. Cory Gardner, could serve there as well. Gardner seems a natural for the committee charged with crafting the repeal and reform of Obamacare — Health, Education Labor and Pensions — as will be his colleague from Louisiana, a doctor, Rep. Bill Cassidy.
The brilliant Ben Sasse from Nebraska and the thoughtful Rep. James Lankford from Oklahoma should be on Foreign Affairs, bringing both a historian’s eyes and a pastor’s heart to the world as it is, not as the president pretends it to be. The former college president and youth minister, respectively, would be a good fit for HELP as well.
The accomplished businessman David Perdue and the accomplished legislator Thom Tillis would find natural homes on the Banking and Finance committees where the awful impacts of Dodd-Frank must be unwound and the tax code overhauled.
Whatever their special assignments, however, they must all attend to the repair of a body deeply injured by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.. The first question: What to do about the now destroyed judicial filibuster, trashed by Reid? Republicans drew back from that brink in the last decade. Reid rushed over it.
Some smart senators want to try and put Humpty Dumpty together again, and on Friday night in Phoenix, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., made the case for doing so eloquently to me and a crowd of hundreds at a post-election celebration of hundreds sponsored by the Center for Arizona Policy.
I dissent. The skinny kid Republicans cannot allow the bully boy Democrats to roll them and then exact no price for having done so. I believe in a near complete embargo of judges and justices in ’15 and ’16, and if a Democrat is president in 2017 and the GOP still in the majority, a return to the rules as they were would then make sense. If a Republican is president in 2017, he or she ought to get two years of simple majority confirmations for their judicial nominees, just as the Democrats willed themselves two years of such ease before restoration is contemplated.
That which gets rewarded gets repeated. Not only would quick restoration of the filibuster reward every Democrat who stood with Reid to trample the rights of the minority, it would deliver no lesson in the crucial value of a super-majority culture to the Democrats who broke that culture.
Just like shattered bones must be knit together and casted into immobility for a long stretch, so should the fractured Senate’s big break with the past be plastered into place for two or four years depending on the results of the 2016 re-election. And if President Obama wants any new federal judges in the 114th Congress, he ought to be nominating one put forward by presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for every one he desires.
Paybacks may or may not be Hell, but they are vitally necessary if the Senate is to recover its genuine uniqueness.
This columns was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.