North Carolina’s Senator Thom Tillis joined me this morning to discuiss the Senate’s rules:
HH: I’m joined by North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis. Good morning, Senator, great to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
TT: Good morning, Hugh. Hope you’re doing well.
HH: I am. I’ve got a piece in the Washington Post today about reforming the rules of the Senate, and I’ve talked about it with your colleagues Joni Ernst and Chris Coons this morning. They both agree that they’ve got to do something about the appropriations process and appointments eating up 30 hours. Do you?
TT: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that we’ve been talking about for almost a year and a half, there’s a group of us, Cory Gardner and James Lankford joined some of the senior members to take a look at rules changes that fall short of the nuclear option, but get rid of some of the games that Schumer is playing every day to chew up the time in the Senate. You know, take a look at how long it’s taking to get some of these appointments done and getting appropriations bills out of the Appropriations Committee but never on the floor because of the obstacles that the minority puts in place. So the motion to proceed to vote, the vote requirement on motion to proceed, some of the post-cloture debate, those are all things that could give us substantially more capacity without doing the nuclear option on the legislation calendar.
HH: Well, Senator Ernst named as likely colleagues in reform Angus King, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar and a number of Republicans, and Lankford among them. Do you think the leaders would authorize you folks to come together with a package of rules to bring to the floor for an up or down vote?
TT: Well, I think so. What they’re saying is do you have 67 votes, because you need a super majority to change the rules. And that’s, it’s a big lift, but it’s one that I’d have to credit James Lankford probably more than any of us for his constant work on this. I’ve had meetings with some of the members on the other side of the aisle, because you only get this time, unless you want to be like Harry Reid by going through the rules process, which requires you to get 60 votes to change the rules instead of breaking the rules to change the rules.
HH: Well, we may end up having to do that unless they do get a gang of reform together as I argue in the Post. Let me ask you just an obvious question, Thom Tillis. Have you got genuine friends across the aisle?
TT: Yeah, I do, actually. You know, and one of the most unlikely that you may find at a human level would be Elizabeth Warren.
TT: (laughing) I knew you would say that. Look, we made it very clear to each other that there’s virtually no policy matter that we agree with except for maybe military families and veterans issues. I chair the personnel subcommittee, and we have actually worked together on a couple of things there. But you know, Hugh, the night before last was a classic example. I was asked to go down to the floor and object to some of the fig leaves that the members who voted for the government shutdown, the Democrats, these motions. They way well, I know I voted for the shutdown, but I voted to fund the military or provide federal workers with pensions. You know, these are these sort of get well bills that they try to do through unanimous consent. I was asked by the leadership if I’d go down and object to them, and I said sure. And so if you would have watched what was going on the other night when they were offering those amendments, you would have thought that we hated each other. And afterwards, they came up and it was Senator from Hawaii, and the other ones, they came up and shook hands and went on our way. I mean, the sort of disdain people think we have for each other exists among some members on a limited basis, but not among the majority of members on a large basis. Otherwise, you’d drive yourself crazy. And it’s because of that that you could go to a Chris Coons or Klobuchar or some of these other members and say guys, we changed the rules. We’re in the majority, but you will be in the majority someday. Why don’t we just have a common sense discussion about things that are being abused now? Maybe at one point, they weren’t abused or they weren’t material. But today, virtually every single day, Chuck Schumer abuses the rules, slows down the process, denies the President of nominations, denies us of our ability to get to appropriations bills and back to regular order. And that’s the case for change.
HH: Well, I hope you follow through on that, Senator Tillis, because that case is powerful, and I think the American people of both left and right and center are just amazed at the Senate’s dysfunction.
End of interview.