Lamar Alexander: Eliminating Filibuster is 'Obamacare II'

Image: Lamar Alexander: Eliminating Filibuster is 'Obamacare II'

Saturday, 23 Nov 2013 12:42 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The tyrannical Senate rule change that effectively eliminated the filibuster to make it easier to approve President Obama's nominees should be called "Obamacare II," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said Friday.

"This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them," the Republican from Tennessee wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

"It creates a perpetual opportunity for 'tyranny of the majority,' which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy."

"Call it Obamacare II," he added, "for which the only cure is a referendum next November."

In the piece, Alexander called the Democrats' reasons for the controversial rule change "flimsy" — and in "many cases, untrue."

No Supreme Court nominees, federal district judges or Cabinet nominees have been defeated by a filibuster, he wrote.

"Regarding sub-Cabinet nominees, there were two for President Obama, three for George W. Bush, and two for Bill Clinton," he wrote. "As for appeals court judges, Republican filibusters have blocked five, but that happened only after Democrats first blocked five."

He also noted Obama’s second-term Cabinet nominees have been confirmed at about the same pace as those of Presidents Clinton and Bush, refuting arguments the president's nominees have waited too long.

And as to the charge of "Republican obstruction" hobbling the majority leader, Alexander noted former majority leader Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., called the filibuster the "necessary fence" against "the executive and popular passions."

"Majority leaders could do whatever they needed to do under the rules, Byrd said," Alexander noted.

He also refuted arguments Republicans have unfairly blocked the president from filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

"In 2006, Democrats insisted on doing precisely what Republicans are asking in 2013: moving judges from courts where they are not needed to where they are needed most," he wrote. "They did not think this unfair then."

"So why would Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., engineer a rules change that he said in 2006 'would be the end of the Senate'?" Alexander added.

"Because the vote was not about the filibuster. It was about permitting the majority to do whatever it wants."

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