Today’s dysfunction arises because senators care little about acting inside the Senate to achieve their goals while working through their disagreements with one another. Sasse’s proposals to “pack the floor,” “make a real budget,” and “sunset everything” are ostensibly designed to address this shortage of action inside today’s Senate. However, Sasse, in outlining his plan, omits the basic fact that his reforms are not really needed in the first place and that they will change little about the institution if his colleagues adopt them.

This is because the Senate’s rules are not its problem — senators such as Sasse are the problem.

Senators will take part in floor debates if they think that what happens on the floor is essential. And any senator, including Sasse, can help convince them of the floor’s importance by showing up there and acting to achieve their goals there.

One of the most unappreciated facts today about the Senate is that its rules already give its members all the tools they need to create the institution for which Sasse is calling. For example, any senator can make a motion to proceed to legislation and force a vote on it. In the course of doing so, senators can force their colleagues to show up on the floor to support or oppose their proposals. In short, senators can force their colleagues to deliberate and vote.