Monday, October 10, 2011

Senate Deliberation

Our chapter on Congress discusses the importance of procedure in fostering -- or thwarting -- deliberation. At ABC, Sunlen Miller writes:

The U.S. Senate is often referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. But to anyone who caught even a few minutes of Thursday night’s meltdown in the Senate, it would be easy to think otherwise.

The fight – in which Democrats invoked the ‘nuclear option’ and used a simple majority to curb the rights of the supermajority - on one level was about procedure. But years of division and partisanship contributed to emotions and rhetoric that ran high, highlighting that the Upper House in Congress might have, to some, turned into a fun house – more about games than getting things done – more about politics than policy.

“I think members on both sides of the aisle feel like this institution has degraded into a place that is no longer a place of any deliberation at all,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said.

Even Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, whose strategic move Thursday night was described by Republicans as “heavy-handed,” admitted the dysfunction. “This has to come to an end,” Reid said of both sides. “This is not a way to legislate.”