Chris Dodd Gives Impassioned and Wise View on Nuclear Option
Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut, who clearly respects and understands the Founding documents of America and who has a healthy respect for the rules and traditions of the Senate, gave impassioned and wise counsel to his fellow Senate members this morning on the Senate floor. I hope to locate the transcript and/or video and ask you to watch or read it.
Dodd gave this statement to MSNBC radio host Don Imus yesterday:
Senator Chris Dodd:
"It comes down to this...the framers created the Legislative Branch...the House of Representatives where the rules are specifically designed to guarantee the rights of the majority. That's why they're the House of Representatives. They created the Senate as a counterweight to that. Where the rights of a minority would prevail or at least would have greater influence than the rights of a majority would. That was to soften things up and what you're doing here is of course, by voting to eliminate the right to filibuster, which is the heart and soul of why the Senate is different than the House of Representatives, is you eliminate the ability then for the minority to be heard. And that's the reason why a Senate was created. Otherwise you would have just a House of Representatives, never bothered to have a Senate.
And secondly, and the more important rule and issue in many ways, is not just the right to filibuster, but what they want to do here is to change the rules of the Senate with 51 votes. Over the years it's taken 67 votes to change rules of the Senate, and the reason they made it a high number was because of the fear that any majority when confronted with the rights of a minority could become frustrated with them, as you're seeing today over these judges, and therefore try to change the rules to accommodate the majority.
And two things are important about this.
One as I mentioned is the right for minority voices to be heard. The second is, it has forced over the years the Senate to be moderate, more moderate. People who have power over time, despite their intentions, if you got the votes to do what you want to do, why would you bother listening to the other side? That's what happens in the House in many cases. But in the Senate, the reason you have to listen is because of that 60 vote threshold and so you end up working things out. Exactly what they're doing today with 12 Senators who assigned a couple to compromise here. If you didn't have to compromise, then you wouldn't bother with it. Over the years we've benefited tremendously in this country because Senators have been forced to compromise with each other, to be more moderate.
And the problem is today you've got 35 of the 55 Republican Senators, and I say this with all due respect to these new members, they haven't been here long enough. None of the 35 have ever served in the minority in the United States Senate. One day they will, and when they're in the minority they'll understand the value of having a place where minority voices must be listened to. It's been a great source of strength for our country over the years. They've been here about a week in many cases, and yet they're acting as if they have some great knowledge of the institution and the value of it. So my hope would be that some of the cooler, older heads would prevail around here upon these newer members to listen carefully about what they're saying and remember the day will come when they will be where we are."