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Orrin Hatch: Majority vote is an offense against democracy

Sen. Orrin Hatch is in the Washington Post this morning, making the case that passing a health reform by a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate is … an offense against democracy.


Which is absurd enough, except that he plays fast and loose with the facts:

To impose the will of some Democrats and to circumvent bipartisan opposition, President Obama seems to be encouraging Congress to use the “reconciliation” process, an arcane budget procedure, to ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill that raises taxes, increases costs and cuts Medicare to fund a new entitlement we can’t afford. This is attractive to proponents because it sharply limits debate and amendments to a mere 20 hours and would allow passage with only 51 votes (as opposed to the 60 needed to overcome a procedural hurdle). But the Constitution intends the opposite process, especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy.


It’s true that the Constitution requires a supermajority vote in certain circumstances — but under no reading of the Constitution is it required to hold a supermajority vote on legislation, no matter how big or controversial. It is true that the Constitution allows the Senate to set its own rules; apparently, though, the Senate rules have been written in such a way that it is possible to use the reconciliation process on this bill, requiring 51 instead of 60 votes to advance. Whether it’s wise or good to use the process is a separate question; but it’s silly to suggest it’s somehow unconstitutional.

Orrin Hatch is a senator. He knows this stuff, right? So why is he misleading the readers of the Washington Post?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that those same Senate rules also allow GOP Sen. Jim Bunning to bring unemployment benefits to a halt all by his very lonesome. Gotta wonder if Hatch thinks that is democratic.

  1. OtherJoel Says: Mar 2 11:54 PM

    Didn’t the Bush tax cuts get passed via reconciliation? Orrin can suck it.

  2. jimmy kraktov Says: Mar 3 3:01 AM

    Orrin Hatch: A legend in his own mind. :-)

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