Senate Change You Can Actually Count

by John Fund

During the last two years of Democratic control of the U.S. Senate, the institution basically shut down. Democratic leader Harry Reid ignored the requirement to pass a real budget or any appropriation bills, letting the government drift on through stop-gap continuing resolutions. The Senate’s robust tradition of allowing debate and floor amendments to bills became a joke.

Much of that is changing under the new Senate management. “Regular order” — the ways things are supposed to run — is making a comeback. Representative Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, gave a speech to the GOP’s Ripon Society this week and laid out the raw numbers.

“One number that’s really interesting is the number 24,” Scalise told the group on Tuesday. “Yesterday marked 24 different amendments that have been voted on by the Senate. That is more amendment votes than the Senate took in the entire 2014 calendar year. On one bill over the course of three weeks, the Senate has already had more amendments on the floor that have been voted on than all of 2014.”

It’s no wonder that some Senate Democrats have privately told some of their GOP colleagues that while they mourn the loss of their majority status, they are also relieved that the Senate is back in business and allowing them to be more than potted plants. The mummification of the Senate under Harry Reid ultimately did no one any good — as witnessed by the severe backlash Senate Democrats experienced last November.

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