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March 4, 2005
John Cornyn Has Robert Byrd's Number

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has written a detailed rebuttal to Robert Byrd's argument on the Senate floor earlier this week, when (apart from the abhorrent Nazi analogies) the former Klan recruiter took on the mantle of the protector of minority rights. Cornyn demolishes Byrd's arguments that the GOP's attempt to change precedent on filibusters has any Hitlerian overtones by pointing out the specifics of when Byrd himself successfully did the same thing:

Recall that it was Sen. Byrd who led the charge to establish new Senate precedents in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1987 - including a number of precedents that were designed specifically to stop filibusters and other delay tactics that were previously authorized under Senate rules or prior precedents ...

In 1980, Senator Byrd led the establishment of a new precedent to require an immediate vote, without debate, on any motion to go into executive session to consider a particular nomination. His new precedent was specifically designed, in his words, to "deal with a filibuster on the motion to proceed" to a nomination. Previously, a motion to proceed to a particular nomination was debatable. The new precedent was sustained by a vote of 54-38, and yet the precedent did not rob a senator of the right to speak out against an overreaching executive branch, as Sen. Byrd claimed in his op-ed. ...

And I think he was very clear in 1979 when he claimed exactly the opposite of what he averred in todays op-ed:


This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past. . . . . The first Senate, which met in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time.... So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate. . . . It would be just as reasonable to say that one Congress can pass a law providing that all future laws have to be passed by two-thirds vote. Any Member of this body knows that the next Congress would not heed that law and would proceed to change it and would vote repeal of it by majority vote.

--U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, Jan. 15, 1979

Read all of Senator Cornyn's excellent essay on Byrd's hypocrisy or amnesia on his own Senate record. It makes a powerful argument for West Virginians to exercise some term limits on their perpetual embarassment of a senior Senator.

Please note: For FEC purposes, I must ask you not to donate to John Cornyn's campaign fund while visiting his website, nor do I endorse the Senator in any re-election bid. Unless he and his colleagues take some action to reverse McCain-Feingold, I'm afraid I'll be writing this about every politician currently in office.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 4, 2005 12:42 PM

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