Four years ago today, on April 7, 2017, 61 senators pledged their loyalty to the filibuster, while the Senate was talking about abolishing it.
“[W]We are united in our determination to preserve the ability of members to engage in expanded debate when there are bills in the Senate, ”wrote the bipartisan group of lawmakers in the letter, written by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Chris Coons was coordinated, D-Del.
“We recognize the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process and we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great American institution continues to function as the largest advisory body in the world,” wrote the Senators, 31 of whom were Democrats.
The letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., And then Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. Existing Senatorial Rights and Privileges to have a full, robust, and expanded debate as we review future legislation before this body. “
Fast forward to today. The only difference between then and now is the party that has control of Congress and the White House – and whose legislative agenda is now being slowed down by the filibuster.
It’s not clear how many of the 31 Democratic senators who signed the Collins-Coons letter still view the filibuster with the same awe they had four years ago.
We may soon find out if their support for an extended debate and the Senate’s role as “the world’s largest advisory body” was real, or if it was just mimicking the risky flip-flop of the then-Sen in March 2004. John Kerry, D-Mass., On Supplementary Resources Law for Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I actually voted for the $ 87 billion before voting against,” he said.
We already know the answer to this question in relation to at least one of these senators. Senator Martin Heinrich, DN.M., who was among the signatories, announced on March 18 that he is now in favor of abolishing the filibuster. “I cannot support the ongoing abuse of filibusters in the United States Senate,” he said.
But “abuse” seems like beauty in the eye of the beholder. According to research by my Heritage Foundation colleague Thomas Jipping, Heinrich voted 95 legislative votes in the Filibuster 95 times in the past six years, coinciding with Senate GOP control and Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.
In 2005, Schumer, then in a Senate minority who used the filibuster to block Republican President George W. Bush’s agenda, reminded his GOP colleagues that the Senate’s constitutional rules were “over the Senate as protection speak to the minority ”.
“The founding fathers called it the ‘cooling saucer,'” said Schumer, referring to the role of the upper chamber in softening what comes out of the house, which for the majority has no similar restrictions.
Now that he’s the Senate majority leader and there’s a president of his own party in the White House, Schumer would let that saucer fly if he could.
That’s because Republican filibusters stand in the way of the radical, left-wing Democrats’ agenda for LGBT privileges, federal elections, the Green New Deal, gun control, immigration at open borders, and the packing of the Supreme Court, DC statehood, “free” college, and more.
For his part, President Joe Biden has set himself the task of repeating his old boss, former President Barack Obama, and calling the Senate filibuster a racist “Jim Crow relic”.
Surely they don’t believe that we don’t know that they were both filibusters not only to thwart the legislation they were speaking out against in the Senate, but also vehemently in favor of defending the filibuster?
Obama was an Illinois Senator on April 13, 2005 when he spoke out against ending the filibuster, claiming that doing so would allow one party “to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can all make decisions while the other Party should sit down and stay calm. “
“If the majority decides to end the filibuster, if they change the rules and end the democratic debate, the fighting, bitterness and stalemate will only get worse,” warned Obama, who turned in about two dozen bills during the filibuster short stay in the Senate, said Jipping.
These bills included laws to repeal estate tax, prohibit the abortion of minors across state borders, and relax the rules on leases for oil and gas wells in states.
About six weeks later, on May 23, 2005, Biden – then in his sixth tenure in the Senate – went to the Senate to use the proposed abolition of the filibuster in various ways as an “example of the arrogance of power”, “a basic power”, to criticize Grab the majority party … to change the reading of the Constitution ”and the“ nuclear option ”that would“ emasculate the Senate ”.
According to Jipping, a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Biden voted for filibuster legislation 137 times during his Senate career.
“You can’t change the Senate rules by a pure majority,” Biden thundered.
But that was then and that is now.
Fortunately, at least two sensible Democratic senators, Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, oppose the abolition of the filibuster. (Manchin was one of the 31 Democratic letter signers; Sinema was not in the Senate at the time.)
For the sake of the country, Manchin and Sinema will have to assert themselves in their sanctimonious 180-degree U-turn against the filibuster in the face of certainly strong pressure from their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and the party’s far left base.
In an interview published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, Sinema rightly stated that the problem lies not with the Senate’s rules, but with the senators themselves.
“When you have a place that is broken and not working, and many would say that this is the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to undermine the rules,” she said. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and work together, which is what the country requires of us.”
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