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Tags: filibuster | dems | scorched | earth | policy

Dems Attack Senate Filibuster Rule at Their Own Peril

the us capitol

The U.S. as seen on April 1 2018. (Zhi Qi/Dreamstime)


Larry Bell By Wednesday, 31 March 2021 09:01 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

With current control of the presidency, House and a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Democrats are now in a position to eliminate a filibuster rule that will virtually destroy America’s two-party system.

This would enable them to pass virtually any legislation they wish for many generations forward.

Included are immediate opportunities to award statehood status to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to pack the Senate with two additionally reliable Democrat Senate members, pack the U.S. Supreme Court with as many new liberal justices as they choose, and cede all state voting procedures to their new expanded and centralized federal government authority.

The filibuster is a tactic in the U.S. Senate that allows for endless debate to stall legislation by keeping the chamber from voting on it. It was first codified in Senate rules in 1917.

Prior to that, the Senate had no rules to end debate, and the chamber installed a 67-vote threshold to create one.

That was reduced to 60 in 1975.

In short, the current 60-vote super majority threshold filibuster requirement for passage of major legislation is all that stands between their party’s full control and America’s democratic republic as we know it.

And all of this will be determined before — and will shape the outcome of — the 2022 congressional elections, arguably the most consequential of our nation’s history.

Recognizing that they hold control of the Congress with a razor thin margin – only by eight House seats and a 50-50 Senate split — Democrats are hyper-motivated to pass an anti-filibuster rule with a simple majority while they have a chance. Their immediate obstacles are two of their Senate members — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who have previously promised that they wouldn’t vote to do so.

Whether or not Sinema and Manchin will yield to enormous progressive colleague and media pressures to renege on their pledges remains to be determined.

During his March 25 press conference President Biden suggested an openness to a compromise eliminating the legislative filibuster, and instead, returning to a ''talking filibuster.'' This alternative requires senators to remain on the floor in objection to legislation, and literally talk motions to death.

Without mentioning any specifics, Biden warned that ''If there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.''

Republican Senate chamber leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear, however, that if Democrats do succeed in killing the filibuster, the consequences won’t be pretty.

McConnell said, ''Some Democratic Senators seem to imagine that this would be a tidy trade-off, if they could just break the rules on a razor-thin majority. Sure, it might damage the institution, but then nothing would stand between them and their entire agenda, a new era of fast-track policy making.

''Don’t count on it,'' McConnell continued: ''So let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues. Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin — can even begin — to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like — none. None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity, and this is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon.''

McConnell then explained what that could mean in practice if Republicans responded by withdrawing the unanimous consent required for the Senate to function: ''I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every single task, every one of them, requires a physical quorum — which, by the way, the vice president does not count in determining a quorum.''

The Senate, McConnell said, would then become a ''100-car pileup'' — nothing moving.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Kimberley Strassel described what to expect a day to be like in McConnell’s scorched-earth Senate.

Unanimous consent is necessary to open the Senate before noon, dispense with the reading of the preceding day’s journal, to avoid reading out loud the text of every amendment and resolution, to avoid roll call votes … the Senate only functions because most consent requests are granted.

To override a flow of ''points of order'' all day — every day — Republicans would flit in and out, and it would take only a handful of members to force roll calls on these votes. Democrat senators and Vice President Kamala Harris would essentially live at the Capitol, constantly on call.

Even one absent member could essentially shut down the Senate.

Then, add to this, the delays from quorum calls. Any senator can question, pretty much any time, whether the Senate truly has 51 senators on the floor. Quorum calls can eat up hours because the Senate secretary is required, in each case, to call the roll.

In other words, scorched-earth means that so long as Republicans hold their nerve and stick together, Democrats won’t be able to confirm nominees or vote on legislation. It means that the Nancy Pelosi-Joe Biden agenda couldn’t move any more than if there were a filibuster.

McConnell also pointed out another obvious reality. Presidential and congressional majorities aren’t permanent, and Republicans will likely also be in a future position to rule the Senate without a filibuster.

Sen. McConnell gave a few examples — defunding Planned Parenthood — but for political flavor think of unfettered GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Rand Paul.

Democrats shouldn’t underestimate how united Republicans would be. All fully realize the seriousness of the radical Democrat agenda to pack the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress with liberal members, federalize the voting system, and, most recently, open U.S. borders to massive waves of undocumented Democrat voters.

Hopefully, this wake-up call will arouse both sides to come together and get back to the business of putting America’s interests first.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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With current control of the presidency, House and a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Democrats are now in a position to eliminate a filibuster rule that will eliminate America's two-party system. This would enable them to pass virtually any legislation they wish.
filibuster, dems, scorched, earth, policy
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 09:01 AM
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