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Senator Kyl’s Quiet Warning

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In a conversation on yesterday’s program, the always careful Jon Kyl underscored the temptation before Democrats right now: Will the radicals in the caucus force the destruction of the Senate filibuster rules in order to pass cap-and-tax and other radical laws?

This is an immensely important development, one that is not being covered by the Democrats’ allies in the MSM in anything like the way discussions about the GOP’s “nuclear option” on judges was covered –with enormous hostility– by the lefty MSM in 2005. Hearings in the Senate Rules Commmittee on the history of the filibuster are setting the stage of a Democratic jam down on the subject, even though Robert Byrd used his last major series of statements of the Senate to defend the practice. (See for example Byrd’s remarks on April 22 of this year.)

Here is the transcript of the entire conversation with Kyl. Here are the key graphs:

JK: But [Senator Byrd] supported the traditions and rules of the Senate in a way that we need to continue to do. And there’s an effort by the extreme liberals in the Senate to undo some of the most important rights of the minority having to do with filibusters. And frankly, Byrd gave one of his, his last speech, I think, was to the Rules Committee about two weeks ago, in which he upheld the strong tradition of the Senate in being able to slow things down and members having a right to speak, and a 60 vote majority to close debate, and that sort of thing. So he will be remembered by all of us as someone that really wanted to maintain the strongest traditions of the Senate, and we will all respect him for that.

HH: Now Senator Kyl, in terms of the idea that the filibuster rules are going to change, that can’t happen this Congress, can it?

JK: Oh, yes it can, actually. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail about how it can happen, but there are precedents for things to change. And if you’ll remember back when we were talking about a way to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees like Miguel Estrada?

HH: Yes.

JK: And the gang of 14 resulted from that. Well, same kind of rulings that Republicans might have relied upon at that time could be posited by Democrats. So…

HH: Posited against actual legislation as opposed to personnel matters?

JK: Correct. Yeah, and again, I don’t want to get into a lot of detail about how things might happen, but to your question is it possible, the answer is yes.

HH: All right, we’ll come back to that, because that could bring global cap and tax legislation into play.

JK: It could bring anything. It could bring anything up. And that’s my point about Robert Byrd. He understood why you never want to do that, and that’s frankly why I thought that the gang of 14 resolution, even with respect to judges, and you can make a very strong argument that it’s different with respect to judges because of the Constitutional requirement to provide advice and consent. And we always said but this would never apply in regular filibuster situations. But it’s important that we quote from Robert Byrd’s testimony, and let our colleagues know that it would be the wrong thing to do, whether or not they have the power to make it happen.

The use of filibusters against judicial nominees by the Democrats in 2003 and 2004 was unprecedented, and contrary to explicit Constitutional command that gives the entire Senate the right to advise and consent on judicial nominees.

The use of the filibuster on legislation is standard practice, dating far back in the Senate, and suspended only in the course of the budget reconciliation process, already abused by this radical Congress.

The prospect of a repeal of the filibuster in order to impose the wildly unpopular cap-and-tax, either before the election or in a lame duck session after a pounding at the polls in November should alarm the handful of moderate Democrats left, and could become an issue in places like Wisconsin and Washington State and possibly even New York, where should-be-safe Democratic incumbents ought to be pressed on their willingness to use radical tactics to rewrite the rules of the Senate in order to impose their hard-left vision on American government.

Thus far the demand for the radical breaking of Senate rules has been a feature of the far left blogs and a handful of senators. Kyl is warning that Democrats seeing the approach of the end of their 60-40 majority are tempted to do whatever is necessary to rewrite the fundamental rules of the American economy.

No wonder the recovery is running out of gas. The private sector has much to fear between now and next January, especially from the lame duck Congress of November and December.

MSM should be demanding of candidates across the country specificity on how they would conduct themselves during a lame duck session after an obvious repudiation of their party’s agenda.

Democrats are trying to paint Rand Paul and other Republican candidates as “radical,” but the real radicals are inside the Beltway, and specifically within the Senate, at work on deeply destructive plans to fundamentally alter how the Senate governs in order to jam through even more job-and-freedom destroying visons of government-by-the-left-for-the-left.

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