There is a new norm developing in American politics, and it's a worrying one: Because a critical mass of senators refuse to either eliminate the filibuster or accept the limits it imposes, the Senate is writing major legislation under extreme and bizarre constraints. The result is that important bills in American politics are compromised and defective from the start.
This was on display in the recent health care fight, and we're seeing it again in the tax reform effort. In both cases, the GOP is trying to write massive, sweeping legislation under the budget reconciliation rules — a process that protects the result from death by filibuster but also hamstrings what the bills can actually do.
This isn't just a Republican problem. Democrats have been using reconciliation more and more brazenly, and while Republicans have pushed it further than ever before under Trump, it's likely that Democrats will follow in their footsteps when they retake power.
More from Vox:
The best economic case for the GOP's new tax plan
Americans have a longstanding love of magical thinking. It gave us Trump.
Public pressure is forcing the White House to respond to the crisis in Puerto Rico
The root issue here is that the Senate's legislative process has been upended by the abusive use of the filibuster, and neither party has been willing or able to address it. The result is the US Senate is moving towards a process where major bills are protected from filibusters, but the cost of that protection is those bills are distorted by a nonsensical process where the goal is surviving parliamentary challenge, not writing the best policy. The possible costs here are immense: a future in which most significant legislation is drafted poorly and the country is left to suffer the consequences.
"Reconciliation was designed for minor budgetary adjustments, not major policy proposals," said Alan Frumin, a former Senate parliamentarian.
Neither party likes this state of affairs. Neither party meant to create this state of affairs. And it's time both parties had the courage to come together and address it.