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All Out Attack By The Left On The Filibuster

Posted By Brian Darling On January 26, 2010 @ 2:50 pm In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Liberals in America are mad because they  have had a difficult time implementing an unpopular far left agenda, especially with regard to Obamacare. One of the results of this rage is for liberals to attack one of the rules in the Senate that protects unlimited debate and amendment – the Filibuster Rule.

Rule 22 of the Senate’s rules governs the conduct of a filibuster and requires that a “Cloture Petition” be signed by 16 Senators to commence the process of shutting off debate on a nomination or legislation. The left wants to get rid of this rule because they don’t like the fact that the rule requires a vote of 60 members to shut off debate.  They are mad because they can’t get Card Check [1] and a Public Option [2] passed in the Senate, even when they had a 60 vote Democrat Caucus, so they are going to change the rules of the game to make it easier to pass big government legislation.  The effect of abolition of the filibuster would be to marginalize moderate Democrats in the Senate and eliminate the need for any input from Republicans.

The Constitution states in Article I, Section 5 that “each house may determine the rule of its proceedings.”  The Senate has passed Rule 22 by a 2/3rds vote.  In 2005, some Republicans flirted with the idea of abolishing the filibuster for judicial nominees and the left fought that idea with all they had within the Senate and in left-leaning think tanks.   In 2005, the term used to describe abolishing the filibuster was the “Nuclear Option.”  Basically, this was a means to use a simple majority of the Senate to ignore the rules of the Senate by claiming the filibuster was unconstitutional.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) set up a page titled The Nuclear Option [3] were they wrote “the filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate.”  CAP hosted a conference titled, Going Nuclear – The Threat to our System of Checks and Balances [4] on April 25, 2005.  John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress spoke at the event where he said:

by removing the safeguard offered by the filibuster, the nuclear option would seriously and perhaps irreparably damage an institution that has functioned since the its inception under customs and traditions that ensure an atmosphere of careful deliberation and mutual respect.  Ultimately, this is not a dispute between the left and the right.  It is a matter of right and wrong.  It’s a choice between safeguarding our system of checks and balances or destabilizing it; between upholding the Senate’s coequal role in the confirmation progress or diminishing it.

This same think tank is now messaging for an abolition of the filibuster [5].

Other outlets who have advocated the abolition of the filibuster include New York Times [6]Mother Jones [7], Think Progress [8], and Washington Monthly [9].  Daily Kos wants to “end the filibuster [10].”  Ezra Klein maps out 4 ways to end the filibuster [11].  Even the President [12] and Vice President [13] have weighed in against the filibuster.  The irony is that many of these same politicians supported and participated in filibusters before they were against it.

Senator Barack Obama voted on January 30, 2006, to filibuster the nomination of Sam Alito to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Senator Obama filibustered the nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations … twice.  The President’s words do not match up with his actions as a Senator.

Vice President Biden’s record also belies a double standard on the filibuster.  Vice President Biden [13] stated on May 23, 2005. that eliminating the filibuster from the Senate’s rules:

extinguishes the power of Independents and moderates in this Senate. That is it. They are done. Moderates are important only if you need to get 60 votes to satisfy cloture. They are much less important if you need only 50 votes. I understand the frustration of our Republican colleagues. I have been here 32 years, most of the time in the majority. Whenever you are in the majority, it is frustrating to see the other side block a bill or a nominee you support. I have walked in your shoes, and I get it.

Evidently some time in the executive branch has changed the minds of our President and Vice President.

On an interesting note, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) spoke at the CAP public event in 2005 and put the filibuster in historical context.  “Plutarch reported that while Caesar was on sojourn in Spain, the election of consuls was approaching. He applied to the senate for permission to stand candidate, but Cato opposed his request and attempted to prevent his success by gaining time with which view he spun out the debate until it was too late to conclude upon anything that day. Hey! The filibuster has only been around 2,064 years, since circa 59 BC.”  The filibuster has a very long tradition.

Both Republicans and Democrats have exhibited bipartisan hypocrisy on the issue of the filibuster.  It is time for cooler heads to prevail and retain the long history and tradition of unlimited debate and amendment in the Senate. Any attempt to abolish the filibuster should be met with bipartisan disdain.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/26/all-out-attack-by-the-left-on-the-filibuster/

URLs in this post:

[1] Card Check: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Labor/wm2334.cfm

[2] Public Option: http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/bg2311.cfm

[3] The Nuclear Option: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2005/05/b672587.html

[4] Going Nuclear – The Threat to our System of Checks and Balances: http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/goingnucleartranscript.pdf

[5] abolition of the filibuster: http://pr.thinkprogress.org/

[6] New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/opinion/11geoghegan.html?ref=opinion&pagewanted=all

[7] Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/01/unconstitutional-filibuster

[8] Think Progress: http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/01/the-constitutionality-of-the-filibuster.php

[9] Washington Monthly: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_01/021869.php

[10] end the filibuster: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/1/11/823848/-Can-You-Help-Me-End-the-Filibuster

[11] 4 ways to end the filibuster: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/11/four_ways_to_end_the_filibuste.html

[12] President: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/is-obama-growing-weary-of-the-gops-filibuster-everything-mo.php

[13] Vice President: http://www.redstate.com/brian_d/2010/01/19/vice-president-biden-v-senator-biden-on-filibuster/

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