In the wake of Senate action last week to restore the Senate practice that nominees receive an up or down vote, there has been a great deal of hyperventilating about whether the rules change is consistent with the intent of the Founders and what it means for the future of the Senate.
Some have called it “tyranny.” Others, a “naked power grab.” In reality, the action taken by the Senate last week is consistent with both the Constitution and the Senate rules and two centuries of Senate tradition, and is fully aligned with the intent of the Founders as well.
Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison indicated in the Federalist Papers a clear belief in majority rule, with Hamilton staying that “the fundamental maxim of republican government . . . requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.” Nonetheless, the Founders left the matter of House and Senate procedure undetermined in the Constitution, choosing instead to let Congress determine its own rules. Article I, section 5 of the Constitution, the Rules and Proceedings Clause, states that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.”