charles-krauthammer

By Charles Krauthammer
Opinion Writer
February 19, 2015 at 8:12 PM

I’ve been radicalized. By Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Goodbye moderation and sweet reason. No more clinging to constitutional and procedural restraint. It’s time to go nuclear.

In the fourth quarter of his presidency, Obama unbound is abusing presidential authority at will to secure a legacy on everything from environmental regulation to immigration, the laws of which he would unilaterally suspend.

Republicans find themselves on the sidelines bleating plaintively about violations of the separation of powers. They thought they found an instrument of resistance in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The House has funded the whole department except for the immigration service, which was denied the money to implement Obama’s executive amnesty.

But Democrats have filibustered the bill in the Senate, where it will die. And as the night follows day, Republicans, not the filibustering Democrats, will be blamed for shutting down DHS and jeopardizing the nation’s safety at a time of heightened international terrorism.

A nice cul-de-sac. But there is a way out for the GOP. Go bold. Go nuclear. Abolish the filibuster. Pass the bill and send it to the president.

I know that breaks a lot of china. But Congress is already knee-deep in fractured porcelain. On policy, Obama has repeatedly usurped congressional power, most egregiously with an executive amnesty for illegal immigrants that for four years he himself had insisted was unlawful (a view given significant support this week in a federal district court).

As for procedure, then-majority leader Reid (D-Nev.) went nuclear in November 2013 when he abolished the filibuster for presidential appointees and judicial nominees (below the Supreme Court). He did it to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with liberals. The nation’s liberal chorus cheered. “Elections are supposed to have consequences,” read one typical commentary. “It was time to push the button.” Boom.

My beef with Reid was not what he did but how he did it. The filibuster has grown in use and power over the decades to the point of dysfunction. Everything needed 60 votes. This is relatively new and nowhere to be found in the Constitution.

My problem was the egregious way Reid changed the rule: by a simple majority, 52-48, with zero Republicans onboard (and three Democrats defecting). As I wrote at the time, “If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules.”

I was not the only one to warn that Democrats would rue the day. Once you go nuclear, so can the other guy.

To read entire column, click here.