Posts tagged Leadership
A long-overlooked Senate committee could save the Republican agenda

Even with last week’s progress on tax reform, 2017 has not been a great year for Republicans in Congress.

Back in January, they had reason to expect things to turn out differently. After all, the GOP controlled Congress and the presidency for the first time in more than a decade. It was Republicans’ best opportunity to enact their legislative agenda since 2005.

But despite the 11 months that have transpired between then and now, they have yet to capitalize on that opportunity. Republicans’ failure to deliver on longstanding commitments, like repealing Obamacare and reducing government spending, has exposed deep divisions within the party over important policy areas. Even the Republicans’ effort to reform the tax code has proven to be harder than many initially expected.

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How Senate Leaders Can Use Existing Rules To End Democrat Stonewalling

Democrats have threatened to filibuster Republican efforts to debate important legislation on the Senate floor. But this is nothing new. The filibuster has been used in the past to frustrate both Democratic and Republican majorities. It has prevented both liberal and conservative policies from passing. This has made it the bane of Senate majorities, their co-partisans in the House of Representatives, and the president.

Consequently, senators have proposed various reforms over the years to clamp down on the minority’s ability to delay the legislative process. Most recently, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., called for changing the Senate’s rules to make it easier to start debate on the floor. He would do so by making the motion to proceed to legislation non-debatable (i.e., not subject to a filibuster).

But Lankford’s proposal is unnecessary. The Senate’s current rules already give majorities the power to end needless delays. And using those rules to clamp down on minority obstruction will be of greater benefit to Republicans than eliminating the filibuster, which would have long-term repercussions for the institution more generally.

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Senatorial Scrums Make Members into Rubber Stamps

Look behind every major legislative success the U.S. Senate has had in recent years and you will find a small group of senators who negotiated quietly in private. Working under the supervision of party leaders, these groups are tasked by the collective, explicitly or implicitly, with resolving difficult issues, writing legislation, and helping to structure the process by which the Senate considers important bills.

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Under reconciliation, it'll be harder than you think to amend the Senate healthcare bill

Changing a reconciliation bill in the Senate is harder than you think. And the reason why has nothing to do with healthcare policy.

While senators are correct to note they have a "virtually unlimited opportunity" to offer amendments to reconciliation bills, the special rules governing that process make it less likely that alternative proposals will receive serious consideration on the floor. Given this, senators should not be quick to assume that beginning debate on the healthcare bill this week will lead to a different outcome if their amendments are not allowed to be debated openly and do not receive up-or-down votes on the merits. Ensuring this requires senators to know exactly what it is that they are amending.

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1950s Control Tactics Can’t Manage Today’s Freewheeling Senators

Healthy institutions require effective leadership. This is evident in the dysfunction surrounding the health-care debate in the Senate today.

Legislative leadership is difficult because legislators are notoriously hard to lead. This makes sense for the Senate, where the majority leader’s job has been described as “herding cats.” Nevertheless, some Senate leaders have been more effective than others.

This suggests legislative leadership is a craft. That is, it can be done well or poorly. Mastering it depends on correctly identifying the challenges and opportunities inherent in the Senate’s environment. It requires acknowledging that a leadership style that works in one environment may not work in another.

This is an important lesson for the Senate’s current leaders. How they practice their craft bears directly on how the Senate makes decisions. And the deterioration in the institution’s decision-making process has been a major driver of its current dysfunction.

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How Senate Republicans can break Democratic obstruction

One big reason why the Senate is gridlocked today is that Republicans have yet to put in the kind of effort required to break the Democrats' obstruction.

Republicans should want the Senate to work. After all, the party retained its majority in the chamber after last November's elections and the GOP also controls the House of Representatives and the presidency for only the fourth time since the end of World War II.

Given this fact, it would be reasonable to assume that the Senate would be raring to go. Instead, the institution looks to be barely moving.

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