COLE: Background check bill underscores failing of legislative process


    How does a bill that the president would sign, 80 percent of Americans agreed with and more than 50 percent of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of, die?

    A parliamentary procedure called cloture.

    The universal background check for gun buyers ate lead thanks to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s agreement (who voted against the bill, by the way) to apply the cloture rule to the bill. Application of that rule would bar any Senate filibuster (a geezer word for “temper tantrum”) but more importantly in this case: it would also bar amendments.¬†You know, like amendments to universal background checks like suspending its effective date, gutting funding or outright porking it to death.

    To recap: A law most Americans supported was killed not because it didn’t have enough votes to pass, but rather it didn’t have enough votes to jump over a parliamentary procedure.

    At its heart, parliamentary procedure is a mechanism for legislative bodies to rule by majority with respect of the minority. Not the other way around.