Politics

How GOP Could Avoid Kowtowing to Democrats on Budget

Sen. Mike Lee says Senate does not have to change the filibuster rule; just 'exhaust' Democrats by making them keep talking till they drop

A $1.3 trillion spending bill passed this week by Congress has conservatives decrying a surrender of fiscal restraint and has prompted calls to eliminate the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes for most legislation in the Senate.

Eliminating the filibuster would be a dramatic move that many Senate traditionalists are unwilling to make. But there is an alternative, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Friday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Lee (pictured above) said Republicans should actually make Democrats debate around the clock rather than “reward” them every time they merely announce a filibuster by recessing.

“And then there’s no consequence for them refusing to close debate,” he said. “If, when they refused to close debate, we kept them in — through weekends, through long weeks, weeks at a time — they would eventually exhaust themselves, and they would eventually vote to close debate,” he said. “I assure you of that.”

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Lee said the spending package passed by Congress — which President Donald Trump mulled vetoing Friday — was terrible. The process by which it was created was worse, he added.

“This is a bill that was negotiated in secret by a small handful of legislative leaders within Congress — to the exclusion of everyone else,” he said. “Which means roughly 300 million Americans were effectively disenfranchised from this process … It’s tragic, and this process has got to stop.”

Lee said Congress must return to the traditional process for passing spending bills — a process that mostly has been abandoned amid partisan gridlock. Instead of wrapping all government spending into one massive bill, dropped days or hours before the vote, he said Congress should pass 13 appropriations measures individually, as had been done in years past.

Lee offered an analogy of a grocery shopper stopping for bread, milk and eggs only to find that he cannot buy those items without also purchasing a half-ton of iron ore, a bucket of nails, and a Barry Manilow album.

Related: Second Thoughts? Trump Mulls Veto of Spending Bill in Tweet

“If we fund government one slice at a time, then it doesn’t all have to be put on the line in a disastrous cycle every single time like we’ve been doing for the last few years,” he said.

For all the spending, Lee said the money devoted to border security is “laughable.”

The senator encouraged Trump to follow through with his Twitter musings on vetoing the bill, even if it means a partial government shutdown. But unless the process changes, he added, the results will remain the same.

“It will happen,” he said. “It will continue to afflict the American people until it no longer works. And it may well be that a presidential veto is what it takes for this to no longer work.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Mike Lee [1], [2], CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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