Aderholt wants Senate filibuster rules changed

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/26/18

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt said filibuster rules need to be changed in the Senate, and also felt that Congress would eventually come up with a solution for the Dreamers immigration issue.

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Aderholt wants Senate filibuster rules changed

Posted

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt said filibuster rules need to be changed in the Senate, and also felt that Congress would eventually come up with a solution for the Dreamers immigration issue.

Aderholt, who has qualified to run for another two-year term this year and said he backs President Trump’s work, gave comments Wednesday following the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new Capstone Rural Health Center in Parrish.

He briefly spoke at the ceremony, noting his presence was not certain until the U.S. Senate reached a deal for a budget resolution over the weekend, ending a brief government shutdown. The stopgap spending measure only extending funding until Feb. 8, and the main sticking point — immigration — may come back up again.

“I was not sure I was going to be able to be here. Over the weekend, we had some issues to work through in Washington,” he said, with generated laughs at the ceremony. He noted his support of community health systems and that the weekend’s compromise also extended funding for the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for several years.

In an interview after the ceremony, Aderholt said, “This was a situation where I think the Senate has got to seriously look at how they structure their filibuster rule. It has got to where every bill brought before the Senate is filibustered by the Democrats. I think filibuster can be used in an appropriate way, but when you use it on every bill that comes before the U.S. Senate, that is problematic. That is why I think they need to drop that down to 51 votes to get anything through the Senate instead of 60.”

In addition, he said currently anyone can just say they are going to filibuster to start the process, but he said senators need to make sure that person holds the floor.

“Right now, they can just phone it in and do a filibuster and not actually have to go to the floor,” he said.

Aderholt said he and other members of the House passed appropriation bills last fall but that the Senate has sat on those bills since then.

Asked if members of Congress were tiring of the number of short-term spending bills, Aderholt said that has left congressmen and senators frustrated.

“A lot of that was because of the healthcare bill and the tax bill, so we were like, ‘Let’s get those out of the way.’ Now, those are out of the way, at least temporarily, so they thought we could move forward,” he said. “But the Democrats are showing they are going to hold everything hostage until they can move forward on exactly what they want. That is why (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) has to really be seriously looking at changing this rule. I know he has thus far not been open to that, but the progress of the entire Senate is really being held up, and the entire Congress, because any bill that passes the House has to be passed through the Senate as well.” 

Aderholt said President Trump has also been in favor of changing the rule.

Asked if there is a desire in Congress to resolve the situation of so-called “Dreamer” children brought illegally to the U.S., a sticking point in the weekend negotiations, Aderholt said, “Most members (of Congress) that I talk to want to find some reasonable solution. They understand many of these children were not brought her on their own volition, but they were brought here as small children. The United States is the only place that they know.” 

According to CNN, the administration announced in September it was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, affecting 700,000 people. However, the administration has given time for Congress to act on behalf of those people.

“DACA recipients have been able to come out of the shadows and obtain valid driver's licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. They also pay income taxes. The program didn't give them a path to become U.S. citizens or even legal permanent residents — something immigrant rights advocates have criticized, saying it left people in limbo,” according to CNN. “if Congress doesn't act, starting March 6, as many as 983 undocumented people could lose their protected status every day — nearly 30,000 people a month, on average, for two years — as DACA recipients' permits start to expire.” 

Aderholt said Republicans want to make sure the problem does not become on ongoing one.

“They want to make sure there is funding for the wall. I think that has to become an integral part of it. If not, 10 years from now, we will be looking at the same problem again. So we understand the children who came here, they only know the United States as their home country, but we have to make sure we solve this problem as oppose to revisiting it down the road,” he said.

As for the feasibility of coming up with a new funding solution soon, Aderholt said he is optimistic, noting early March is now considered to be the deadline for making a decision and that still may have to be extended. He is seeing Democrats understand “the president is serious” about constructing a wall at the Mexican border.

“He is going to put his foot down,” he said. “He’s not going to move along with any kind of legislation unless we see some teeth in the law to allow a wall be put up and that this makes sure this doesn’t happen again years on down the road.”

Aderholt, a conservative Christian who has been supportive of the president, was asked to grade Trump’s performance after the first year.

“If you look at his record, I think he has a tremendous record in getting conservative policies through,” Aderholt said. “Obviously, the health care bill was not something — he did his part. The House, we did our part. The problem again was with the Senate.

“I think the president has done an excellent job. What he said he would do, he has done. He has stood up for the Christian, pro-life community. He has stood his ground on conservative principles. I don’t think really the conservative community could ask for anything else,” he said.

He said Trump is under much pressure, noting the tension between him and the national news media. (“I stress the national media, not the local news media,” Aderholt said.) 

“The national news media is very unfair. They don’t report as the news really is. They report it like they want it to be. They have done a disservice. Everyone wants to have a free press, but they have to be fair as well. I think the president is doing an excellent job. It’s a different atmosphere in Washington, D.C., now compared to the last several years because the president is moving forward on a lot of things.” 

Aderholt said when he returns to the district, constituents are saying they are very pleased on how is moving forward on legislation and his work with Congress. “I think it is important we try to continue to work with him,” he said.

Asked about working with Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who was recently elected as a Democrat, Aderholt said, “Doug joined us two or three weeks ago. We have already had a delegation meeting, and he was there. Of course, we will probably be voting different on probably a lot of legislation, but Doug has to come to a point where he is going to have to figure out how he is going to best represent the state. It is still early on. I am glad to see he voted against (Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer) and this shutdown of policy over the weekend. But there will more difficult votes he will have to face in the future, because Alabama is a conservative state, and running as a Democrat and being around a lot of the national Democrats, there will be a lot of pressure on him to go the other way.”