James Wallner

A long-overlooked Senate committee could save the Republican agenda

Even with last week’s progress on tax reform, 2017 has not been a great year for Republicans in Congress. Back in January, they had reason to expect things to …

Molly Reynolds’ Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Reform in the Senate

The Senate has changed considerably in recent years. So too has our understanding of how its members make decisions. Traditionally, the leading scholarship on the Senate has taken as …

Age-old Senate rules might kill tax reform

This week’s rush by Republicans to pass tax reform reveals the limits of majority rule in the Senate. Early in the year, Republicans decided to use the special budget …

Putting individual mandate repeal in the tax reform bill only complicates the GOP’s efforts

Senate Republicans have decided to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of their effort to reform the tax code. And they may have made their job harder in …

Why cloture benefits both parties

Senate Rule XXII requires an affirmative vote of “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” to invoke cloture, or end debate, on any “measure, motion, or other …

The GOP is in a civil war, and Mitch McConnell is making it worse

The Republican Party is in the middle of a civil war. And instead of trying to resolve it, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is making it worse. According …

Jeff Flake’s indictment of American politics

Dudes and Pharisees. Mugwumps. Those were just some of the names that party regulars called the disaffected Republicans who refused to support James G. Blaine for President in …

Will the reconciliation route work?

Republican efforts to reform the tax code received an important boost with last week’s passage of the annual budget resolution in the House of Representatives. But the GOP …

Confusing GOP rhetoric made it harder for them to ‘repeal’ or ‘reform’ Obamacare

The Republican Party is gearing up for a critical push to reform the tax code. After the spectacular collapse of its seven-year effort to repeal Obamacare this summer, …

In defense of third-degree amendments

Senate majorities routinely restrict the ability of senators to participate in the legislative process. The most common way they do so is when the majority leader fills the amendment …

How senators can offer amendments without the majority leader’s permission

The demise of regular order in the Senate makes it harder for its members to participate in the legislative process. And the result of their efforts to do …

Blocking amendments is a perversion of Senate rules and practices

The Senate today is an institution in decline. It is paralyzed – unable to legislate, much less deliberate. The Senate’s plight is reflected in the near-total deterioration of its …

Structural imbalances in the Senate’s amendment process

The Senate is a pale imitation of what it once was. A major reason for its current predicament is that senators are no longer freely able to amend the …

For Senate Republicans to get anything done, change must start at the top with Mitch McConnell

Senate Republicans are faltering. Buffeted by adversity on every front, they appear exhausted and demoralized. But their cause is not lost. New leadership can rally the Republican rank and …

Study: How the ‘amendment tree’ grew to neuter Senate floor debate

The principal means by which Senate majorities have exerted greater control over the institution’s decision-making process in recent years has been through their ability to block amendments on …

Historical development of the Senate’s amendment process

Senate majorities have used a complex assortment of rules and practices in recent years to exert greater control over the institution’s decision-making process than at any other point …

How GOP leadership’s neutering of budget hawks left them unarmed against Trump’s debt deal

September’s fiscal deal between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats was an unpleasant surprise for Republicans on Capitol Hill. They opposed its substance and were frustrated with Trump …

Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare are dead. This simple mistake is why

The Republican Party's seven-year crusade against Obamacare is effectively over. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced her opposition to the latest repeal effort on Monday, joining Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand …

AEI: The Senate filibuster: Tool of mass obstruction or key to deliberation?

The course of the confirmation process isn’t supposed to run smooth

The debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the slow pace in filling judicial vacancies (or whether the pace is even slow to begin with) reflects an …

A beginner’s guide to the Senate’s rules

The overall structure of Senate procedure is derived from five primary sources: The Constitution; the Standing Rules of the Senate; statutory rules passed by Congress and signed into …

Trump can’t predict the future of the filibuster

Last week, President Donald Trump called on Senate Republicans to nuke the filibuster, predicting the chamber's Democrats would not hesitate to do so in the future if their roles were …

How Senate leaders can use existing rules to end Democrat stonewalling

Democrats have threatened to filibuster Republican efforts to debate important legislation on the Senate floor. But this is nothing new. The filibuster has been used in the past …

What the budget process can tell us about the state of the Senate

Congress is running out of time to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. In July, the House of Representatives passed four appropriations …

Senatorial scrums make members into rubber stamps

Look behind every major legislative success the U.S. Senate has had in recent years and you will find a small group of senators who negotiated quietly in private. …

Under reconciliation, it’ll be harder than you think to amend the Senate healthcare bill

Changing a reconciliation bill in the Senate is harder than you think. And the reason why has nothing to do with healthcare policy. While senators are correct to note they have …

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