The president would be the one person deciding which parts of the government stayed open or shut down in the fall. The president would be vetoing new Defense funding, new ship construction, new IRS reform laws.
Killing the filibuster and moving forward with an energized legislative agenda would probably also save at least two if not all four of the endangered GOP Senate seats of Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Mark Kirk in Illinois, and the Florida seat that will be left vacant by Marco Rubio’s run for the presidency.
“What’s more important, the Constitution or the filibuster?” is the rhetorical question being posed by key House conservatives led by the very able Raul Labrador. If you believe the president’s actions on immigration are actually unconstitutional, then Labrador’s framing is exactly right. Senate traditionalists will argue that the Senate is the Senate because of its 60 vote rule, but of course (1) there is no 60 vote rule in Madison’s design, (2) Harry Reid smashed the 60 vote rule anyway and (3) the left has spent years pointing that out and many Senate Democrats are on record in favor of invoking the Reid Rule again and again to clear away the remains of the filibuster that Reid did not already wreck.
The prospect of an epic and continuing clash between a Republican Congress sending bill after bill over to the president on matters large and small and the president vetoing them all would set up a choice for the country on 2016 that is both fundamental and necessary. Senators recoil from losing their minority rights, but as former Missouri Senator Jim Talent said on my show Tuesday, the country needs a lot of legislation passed if it is to be righted, a lot of legislation that won’t get 60 votes, so now may be the time to reform the Senate for the new millennium, and increase the speed of legislative action.