From Gridlock to Fiat; the Dangers of Senate Rule Changes

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D.) is wagging his scrawny finger and whining for changes to Senate rules in the hopes that the Democrat Party, his party, can shove the opposition aside and pass federal legislation at will. On Monday, Nov. 26 2012, our system of governing although gridlocked did its job and the American people were spared poorly written and illegal legislation.

After hours of debate concerning the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) a procedural vote requested by Republican, Jeff Sessions, prevented a flawed and unconstitutional bill from sliding on through the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate. Senator Sessions had raised concerns that the bill would violate congressional budget rules by instituting new federal spending to accommodate the costs of this legislation. As it turns out the Alabama Junior Senator was correct and the bill failed to meet the 60 vote threshold (Dems. 50 – Reps. 44) necessary to be advanced to a final vote. Senate majority leader Reid was visibly upset with this set back; after all Democrat sponsored bills should never be questioned by the opposition party.

Harry Reid is fed up with government inaction. Earlier, on Monday morning, he and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, debated Reid’s demand that Senate house rules be changed to lower the procedural vote threshold from 67 votes to 51. According to Senator Reid this harmless change would increase congressional productivity and eliminate legislative gridlock. In other words, decreasing the votes required to move legislation through the Senate (neutering procedural votes) would allow the majority party (Democrats) to pass any and all legislation they wanted without threat of opposition from the minority party (Republicans).

The Sportsmen’s Act (S. 3525) is a minor and relatively inexpensive piece of legislation ($14 million per year) designed to provide for funding and regulation of American Sportsmen’s access to federal land and conservation of its indigenous wildlife through use of federal hunting license fees. Sounds simple enough until you consider that the bill calls for $140 million of new spending (a violation of budget rules) and gives unconstitutional and unrestrained powers of taxation to the Secretary of the Interior. In its present form S. 3525 gives the Department of Interior the power to determine federal hunting license fees (or taxes) which may be a great budget gimmick (guarantees deficit neutrality), but it is a violation of our founding principles. In case you have forgotten the power to tax (as defined in the Constitution) belongs to the U.S. Congress and not the Executive Branch.

Hunters (Ducks Unlimited) and gun rights advocates (the NRA) are probably in a tizzy over the Senate’s failure to green light the Sportsmen’s Act. These groups lobbied hard for passage of this bill. The heavy hitting NRA didn’t want the EPA regulating hunting ammunition toxicity (which was removed from the bill) and the duck lobby wanted more money (increases in federal hunting license fees) for wetlands and water fowl conservation efforts. The problem is that in getting what they wanted they turned their collective backs on the U.S. Constitution and almost cut their memberships throats. They should be hitting their knees today and thanking God for Pete Sessions and his intoxicating hillbilly narrative. He saved them from themselves.

I am a hunter and a gun owner. I recognize the importance of sound conservation policies and support affordable access to federal lands for American hunters. However, I am not willing to sacrifice our constitution to prevent EPA ammunition regulation. That is a dangerous trade-off for any Second Amendment advocate. I am not willing to allow heavy hitting lobbies to dictate good and bad legislation to service their myopic memberships. This is about something more important than winning the day for a single cause. Conservative organizations should know better than to get in bed with the lying ruling class. Eventually Democrats will trade up to a wealthier benefactor and your rights to lead ammo and sporting “Woodies” will all go away. What then?

So it is with Harry Reid’s attempts to hijack our legislative process through Congressional rule changes. For those who wish to facilitate so-called legislative productivity to service special interests agenda’s they best consider the costs to our founding principles and laws before accepting the scraps from their master’s tables. Every elected U.S. Representative has taken an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. After Monday’s debate it is clear that many on both sides of the legislative aisle care more for patronage and graft then protecting the law of the land. Why else would 51 of them support an unconstitutional law and why did it take hours of debate to force the vote? Follow the money.