The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 25, 2013

Readers' Forum 4-25 | Senate plays by its own, misguided rules

— While watching the U.S. Senate debates on C-Span, I came to realize the insignificance of the number one. Think about this: To become a senator, you need only one more vote than your opponent.

For a bill to pass in the House, it needs only one more vote than the opposition. For a law to withstand a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court, only one aditional vote is needed to provide the margin of victory or defeat.

But in the Senate, a majority of 60 percent is needed to pass a bill. Evidence of this was on full display on April 17 when seven bills were voted on and, although all got at least 54 yes votes, all were defeated.

The bills were sponsored by both parties and were in some cases bipartisan. But because of the antiquated rules of the Senate, 51 is not enough for approval. A majority does not win in the Senate.

Shame on us for electing men with no backbones, whose main concern is getting re-elected by catering to the needs of special interest groups, such as big banks, Wall Street, drug companies and the National Rifle Association.

These groups put so much pressure on the senators that they were shaking like Jell-O in an earthquake.

The net result of several weeks of debate is exactly nothing. We the people lose again.

Washington needs to be cleaned up and to play by the same rules as the rest of us:  Majority wins.

If they don’t know that, perhaps we can start teaching them come election time.

John S. Fabo

South Fork

Senate’s failure on gun reform shameful

Once again, the rules of the U.S. Senate prevented action supported by most of the Senate and a majority of the American people by “defeating” weapons purchase background checks, 54–46.

Sen. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey acted with common sense by joining the majority in support of gun reform. It is shameful that a small bloc of senators was able to block life-saving legislation.

I’m with the 88 percent of Pennsylvanians who support background checks for all gun sales. Background checks are common sense. And they work. In states where background checks are required for handguns, far fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners.

The people most excited by the Senate’s failure are criminals – because they’ll continue to have access to no-background- check gun sales.

As a physician and longtime Somerset resident, I see no conflict with background checks and an active sporting and hunting populace. I urge all our elected officials to make our safety their top priority.

No one should rest while 33 Americans continue to be murdered every day with guns.

Dr. Thomas Brennan

Somerset

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