Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Senate dysfunction heads toward disaster

A U.S. Senate that routinely blocks votes on legitimate presidential appointments is one that is better at partisan gamesmanship than at running the country. The specter looms this week that fed-up Senate Democrats may use an ill-advised procedural maneuver to try to fix things. The better solution is for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to stop denying President Barack Obama an up-or-down vote on his nominees, at least for agency and Cabinet posts.

It was hoped that after the presidential election McConnell, R-Ky., would begin to be more reasonable when it came to voting on presidential picks and not routinely require a 60-vote supermajority to break a filibuster before an up-or-down vote on nominees. Instead, McConnell has continued the strategy even for noncontroversial nominees who would be expected to win confirmation handily if a vote were ever taken.

Now Democrats are preparing for a strong-arm tactic that would remake the more deliberative Senate to look more like the House, where the majority party controls decisions. Democrats may force McConnell's hand by bringing some nominees to a vote. If McConnell blocks the vote with a filibuster, Democrats have threatened to change the Senate rules for overriding a filibuster through a technical maneuver so the votes could proceed on at least agency and Cabinet appointments — though not necessarily judicial or legislative ones. Dubbed the "nuclear option" for the way it would snuff out any remaining bipartisanship in the chamber, the move is a surrender to Washington's hopeless gridlock.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader, has resisted filibuster reform and refused to modestly change the rules by a majority vote during a window of opportunity in January. Changing them more drastically now would set a troubling precedent where the minority party loses the leverage that has been a central feature of the Senate. "Majorities are fleeting, but changes to the rules are not," McConnell recently warned. "And breaking the rules to change the rules would fundamentally change this Senate."

But the reality remains that McCon-nell is abusing his power by blocking the work of the Obama administration and remaking public policy without having to submit to the legislative process. Among the nominations held up are those for vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board, the only federal body that polices collective bargaining rights for the nation's employees, and that of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A letter signed by 43 Republican senators says they won't confirm any nominee as the bureau's director because they object to the bureau's power. But that should be a debate over law, not a specific nominee's appointment to an agency job that is on the books.

This is no way to run a country.

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Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18