Senate Didn't Nuke Everything; Legislative Process Still Crawls
So, the Senate invoked the so-called “Nuclear Option” to ease the way for confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.
It is a huge change for the Senate – hence the name “Nuclear Option.”
It will allow a simple majority of senators to move to confirm a member of the United States Supreme Court.
But will it impact the issues credit union folks probably care about most, such as regulatory overhaul or tax reform?
Nope. Most of the time watching the Senate in action (if you can call it that) still will be as exciting as watching paint dry.
The move will not speed up the legislative process at all. And depending on how the Democrats react, it could slow it even more.
Democrats and Republicans could decide that now that the nomination is finished, the Senate must start functioning. Or it could slow things even more, as angry Democrats react angrily.
One move is highly unlikely: An end to the filibuster when considering legislation.
The Senate is designed to move slowly.
Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington sat down to discuss whether a House of Representatives was sufficient to govern or whether a Senate was needed.
During the conversation, Jefferson poured a bit of his coffee into a saucer.
Washington asked why Jefferson did such a thing. He replied that it was to cool the coffee, adding that his throat was not made of brass.
Legend has it that Washington replied that the Senate was designed to cool legislation.
And it has worked.
Take 1995. Republicans had taken control of Capitol Hill. And during the first 100 days, the House worked feverishly to enact legislation that was called for in its “Contract with America.”
The Senate, on the other hand, slowly considered bills and many of the changes called for in the contract died in the Senate.
Senators guard their pregotives carefully. And those privileges include the right to talk incessantly and to spend as much time as they want debating legislation.
In fact, senators don't have to occupy the Senate floor to conduct a filibuster. The mere suggestion that they might blocks legislation unless bill supporters can gain 60 votes to agree.
Senators are loath to change the legislative filibuster for several reasons.
For instance, senators know that one day, their party might find itself in the minority. And then they will want to use the filibuster to block legislation.
And there's the knock that if the filibuster is eliminated, the Senate will be “just like the House,” where a filibuster is prohibited.
And if there's one thing the Senate does not want to be compared with, it's the so-called “lower chamber.”
While we’re on the subject of the Senate, the two members of the NCUA board, Acting Chairman J. Mark McWatters and Board Member Rick Metsger, have been getting along so well publicly that it might be easy to forget there's supposed to be a third member sitting at that table.
While it's impossible to predict when that seat might be filled, if the pace of other administration appointments is any indication, it might be empty for a while.
The Partnership for Public Service, a group that is designed to help with presidential transitions, and the Washington Post have combined on a “Political Appointee Tracker.” The two groups are following 553 presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation.
So far, the administration has not selected a nominee for 486 positions. Some 24 have been selected, but not formally nominated; 21 have been nominated and 22 have been confirmed.
In many cases, cabinet secretaries have been nominated, but their deputies have not yet been selected.
One job that has been filled (probably because it doesn't require Senate confirmation) is that of White House press secretary.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been called a lot of nasty names since starting his job.
Here's one you haven't heard: Credit union member.
Earlier this month, the Trump Administration released financial disclosure documents for a group of its White House staff.
A review of the most prominent employees shows what you would expect.
Many of them are very rich.
For instance, the financial disclosure form filed by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner totals some 54 pages.
Spicer's totals a measly 15 pages.
Many of the disclosure reports simply list “bank account” as an asset, so it's difficult to tell if they might have an account with a credit union.
But a perusal of the most visible White House staff documents shows that Spicer has three accounts at an unnamed credit union.
He also has a mortgage with Lake Michigan Federal Credit Union in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a personal loan with United States Senate Federal Credit Union.
So, the next time you see Spicer fumbling and bumbling during a White House briefing, should you have a bit of sympathy for him because he supports the credit union movement?
David Baumann is a Correspondent-at-Large for CU Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.