The Senate can be "the greatest legislative tool we have" to resolve partisan feuding: Its rules essentially "require" bipartisanship on major decisions, and we've seen that cooperation throughout the past century, from Medicare to the Americans With Disabilities Act, writes Sen. Mitch McConnell at Politico in a piece headlined "How to Save the Senate." Today, however, the upper chamber isn't working as it once did. Last week, for instance, majority leader Harry Reid "refused to consider a single Republican amendment to an unemployment bill," the minority leader complains, singling out Reid's "tightening hold on the legislative process." Looking around his once-vaunted institution, McConnell says "it’s time everyone understood what has been lost, what that means for our country, and what can be done about it."
He offers up three ways to return the Senate to its bipartisan roots:
- Restore power to the committees and their policy experts, hammering out drafts in the small groups instead of "in the majority leader’s conference room."
- Once bills get to the floor, they deserve healthy debate and a "robust amendment process."
- Senators must "learn how to put in a decent week’s work again," McConnell writes. "The only way 100 senators will truly be able to have their say, the only way we will be able to work through our tensions and disputes, is if we work longer hours."
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