The left is pushing very hard for so called “Filibuster Reform.” Ezra Klein of the Washington Post poses the question today “Is this the end for the filibuster?”
The problem with a president promising to “change Washington” is that the presidency isn’t the part of Washington that’s broken. The systemic gridlock, dysfunction and polarization that so frustrates the country isn’t located in the executive branch. It’s centered in Congress. And one of its key enablers is Senate Rule XXII — better known as the filibuster.
It was not too long ago that liberals embraced the filibuster and were outraged that Republicans were intent on using the “Nuclear Option” to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees with a simple majority party line vote. Now the left wants to nuke the filibuster in January.
Remember his back bench Senator from Illinois?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2005 argued that “to change a rule here in the Senate takes a simple majority. But if somebody wants to speak in an extensive manner relating to that rule change, you have to break a filibuster. They are not willing to do that. They are going to use brute force and break the rules to change the rules.” Get ready for some brute force by Senate liberals.
Klein argues that eliminating the filibuster in the next Congress has political appeal.
Ideally, a bipartisan majority of senators would end the filibuster — either immediately or with a delayed trigger six years after a deal is struck — so neither party would know which is poised to benefit. But doing away with the filibuster in the next Congress has some appeal, too. Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House; there will be no instant power grab leading to one-party dominance. It will instead be a down payment toward more effective government the next time voters decide to give one party or the other control of Congress and the presidency.
The problem is that the liberals in the Senate would have to ignore the idea that the Senate is a “continuing body” and force through a change with a party line vote — contrary to the explicit language of the Senate’s rules.
Because the Senate is a continuing body, it is impossible to change the rules without ignoring a filibuster of the change of the rules that requires a two-thirds vote of all Senators to shut down debate. The rules allow for a filibuster of the rules change.
Senate Rule V provides “no motion to suspend, modify, or amend any rule, or any part thereof, shall be in order, except on one day’s notice in writing, specifying precisely the rule or part proposed to be suspended, modified, or amended, and the purpose thereof.” To suspend or change the rules, Reid would effectively need 67 votes.
Reid will argue that when the Senate comes into Session in January, he is allowed to change the rules with a party line 51 vote threshold. This is a naked power grab by liberals. Conservatives need to dig in and fight this terrible idea.