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Democrats' Power Grab Threatens Senate Balance


Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to change the rules of the Senate to drastically limit the use of the filibuster.
Excerpts of his remarks are below:

"The Majority Leader, and some members of his party, have now proposed what would be an unprecedented power grab that will forever change this chamber's rules.

"I am speaking, of course, about the Democratic plan to change the rules of the Senate to drastically limit the use of the filibuster.

"They seem to want to break the rules to change the rules and I believe it's fundamentally wrong to break the rules to change the rules. This would be a terrible mistake and an irresponsible abuse of power.

"The rules of the Senate ensure a balanced approach to debating important matters such as the fiscal crisis. Among these rules, filibuster is critically important.

"The filibuster was created so that competing groups of Senators would actually have to work together to find responsible solutions, not solutions based on one political ideology or the other.

"Back when he was a Senator, President Obama understood the need for rules to protect the rights of political minorities.

"In 2005, then Senator Obama said, "If the majority chooses to end the filibuster -- if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate -- then the fighting and bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.'

"Another former Senator was Vice President Biden, currently the President of the Senate and he agreed.
He said, "At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill, it's about compromise and moderation.'

"Back then, Democrats called this the "nuclear option' That's because of the damage it would do to the balance and compromise in Washington. So today some of those same Democratic Senators are preparing to use the nuclear option themselves.

"The filibuster is not just about stopping bad ideas. More often, it's about amending bills to make them better. It's about maintaining the balanced approach that the President is calling for in these important talks on the fiscal cliff.

"It's about giving members of the minority, and the people they represent, a chance to offer their solutions. Instead of allowing that measured approach the founders intended, what we are seeing is the Majority Leader has already done an awful lot to limit debate.

"He has already restricted the rights of minority Senators and the people they represent. He has bypassed committees at an extraordinary pace and he has made unprecedented use of the parliamentary trick known as "filling the amendment tree.'

"He would set the precedent that just 51 Senators could band together to change any rule of the Senate at any time. Currently, it takes 67 votes to change the rules of the Senate.

"If Senate Democrats succeed now, they will destroy, for temporary political gain, any hope of achieving a truly balanced solution to the challenges that we face as a nation.

"Our political system functions on majority rule, but with strong minority rights.

"Democracy is not winner-take-all. The right to debate is not a luxury for the majority to hand out. It is essential to our system of government. Majorities are temporary.

"The Senators who are so eager to change our rules by breaking the rules should not to be so eager to take away the rights of the American people that those rules were designed to protect.

"The cost is simply too high. We have too much important work to do here in the Senate.

"We should be focused on doing all we can to avoid the fiscal cliff, grow our economy, and create the jobs the American people need and deserve."

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