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Wallner on the Senate: In defense of third degree amendments

The meeting devolved into a partisan squabble. Cyber policy experts, lawmakers and former officials had urged Trump to replace Joyce and not to abolish the position… The cyber coordinator led a team of directors and senior directors who worked with agencies to develop a unified strategy for issues like election security and digital deterrence. The coordinator also represented the administration in meetings with foreign partners and at conferences and other public events.

Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr.

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The maneuver prevents the underlying legislation from being changed and protects rank-and-file senators in the majority from having to cast votes that could be used against them in their future efforts to win re-election. Indeed, they can offer so-called third degree amendments even though the amendment tree has been filled.


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This confronts the majority leader with a unique challenge. If utilized on a regular basis, third degree amendments could eventually undermine his ability to control what measures receive votes on the Senate floor.

Senate Legislative Process

This would, by extension, weaken significantly his ability to prevent the underlying legislation from being changed and to protect rank-and-file members in the majority from voting on amendments. Given this, some senators have opposed efforts by their colleagues to offer third degree amendments. In opposing the maneuver, Lamar Alexander R, TN warned his colleagues of the consequences that would result if they joined Cruz in voting to overturn the decision of the chair.

Doing so would make it less likely that Republican senators would vote to overturn the chair, regardless of how they felt about the substance of the underlying amendments.

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There will be chaos. First, there are important distinctions between third degree amendments and the nuclear option, even though both utilize the same mechanism i.

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Appealing the ruling of the chair that an amendment is not in order when the amendment tree has been filled is not synonymous with the nuclear option because it does not violate the Standing Rules of the Senate. If successful, it would simply create a new precedent governing the amendment process. It would not violate any specific rule.

The appeal would only be functionally equivalent with the nuclear option if the new precedent explicitly violated an existing provision of the Standing Rules. Otherwise, the creation of a new precedent on appeal is entirely consistent with Senate rules and past practices. Second, a closer consideration of regular order in the context of the amendment process suggests that it would remain relatively unaffected by a successful appeal in this scenario.

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Alexander contends that the amendment trees make it possible for the Senate to function today. He predicts that floor debate on bills would be chaotic if the current amendment trees were altered by a successful appeal. The implication is that effectively removing the limits on the number of amendments that can be pending to legislation on the Senate floor would make it impossible to consider legislation in an orderly manner.