Former Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) found a new way to end gridlock on Capitol Hill — abolish the Senate.
Dingell was the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, serving for more than 59 years and retiring in 2015. So, his anti-Senate bias has been brewing for some time.
The former congressmen penned an op-ed in the Atlantic titled, “I Served in Congress Longer Than Anyone. Here’s How to Fix It.”
His answer: Abolish the Senate and take private money out of politics.
“The Great Compromise, as it was called when it was adopted by the Constitution’s Framers, required that all states, big and small, have two senators. The idea that Rhode Island needed two U.S. senators to protect itself from being bullied by Massachusetts emerged under a system that governed only 4 million Americans.
Today, in a nation of more than 325 million and 37 additional states, not only is that structure antiquated, it’s downright dangerous. California has almost 40 million people, while the 20 smallest states have a combined population totaling less than that. Yet because of an 18th-century political deal, those 20 states have 40 senators, while California has just two. These sparsely populated, usually conservative states can block legislation supported by a majority of the American people. That’s just plain crazy.”
In other words, Dingell doesn’t believe those pesky conservative states should have influence in the policy of the entire nation. He called the idea of federalism and states’ rights “antiquated.”
Dingell is certainly right that the gridlock between the House and the Senate would be resolved if the Senate did not exist, but he failed to provide evidence that the gridlock would end just because there is only one body legislating.
Even the Republican-controlled Senate from the past two years struggled to get on the same page for most votes, including those on health care, the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and taxes. Every vote was a struggle.
Dingell wrote, “At a minimum, combine the two chambers into one, and the problem will be solved.”
He didn’t comment on the likelihood that spending votes would still need a supermajority to pass, just as they need 60 votes in the Senate today.
Although Dingell made it clear that he doesn’t want small states to have a say in national policy, his prescription for ending gridlock likely wouldn’t make a massive difference.