A day in a scorched-earth Senate

Trust him. As Majority Leader Chuck Schumer well knows, there are 44 standing rules of the Senate; the filibuster is but one. A Congressional Research Service report notes that most are designed to enhance “the rights of individual senators” at the expense of “the powers of the majority.” To the extent the Senate functions at all, the report notes repeatedly, it is only because senators willingly relinquish those prerogatives. Mr. McConnell on Tuesday described a world in which they don’t, which he called a “scorched-earth Senate.”

It’s a world without “unanimous consent,” in which a senator asks all 99 colleagues to give up their right to object to a proposal. Senate leaders rely on unanimous consent dozens of a times a day. You need consent to open the Senate before noon, to dispense with the reading of the preceding day’s journal, to move to business, to avoid reading out loud the text of every amendment and resolution, to avoid roll call votes. The Senate functions because most consent requests are granted.

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