Senators on both sides of the aisle are worried that the dispute over the Democrats' attempt to block Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's confirmation could not only cause Republicans to make an opportunistic change to of the rules in the upper chamber, but also lead to irrevocable damage to the Senate by eventually eliminating the filibuster for controversial legislation, The Hill reported on Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that Gorsuch will be confirmed even if he can't garner the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster by altering Senate rules so that a simple majority is enough, commonly called "the nuclear option."
But McConnell insists that the legislative filibuster is safe, telling NBC's "Meet The Press" that support for it remains strong in the Senate.
"I don't think the legislative filibuster is in danger. It's a longstanding tradition of the Senate. The business of filibustering judges is quite new," said McConnell.
However, many other did not share his view.
Republican Sen. John McCain said he is convinced eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations is a slippery slope, while fellow GOP Sen. Bob Corker agreed, warning that "if we continue on the path we're on right now, the very next time there's a legislative proposal that one side of the aisle feels is so important they cannot let their base down, the pressure builds, then we're going to vote the nuclear option on the legislative piece."
Several Democratic congressmen have the same fear.
Sen. Joe Manchin warned The Hill that "people who have been here for a long time know that we're going down the wrong path here. The most unique political body in the world, the United States Senate, will be no more than a six-year term in the House."
However, others in both parties are eager to see the end of the filibuster. Former Republican Rep. Matt Salmon said, "It's become so commonplace to block just about everything, including even appropriation bills, so that the Congress can't get its work done. The filibuster as it's currently used has really worn out its welcome."
Similarly, former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told Politico: "You can't have a democracy decided by 60 out of 100, and that's why changing the rules is one of the best things that has happened to America in a long time."
While acknowledging the drawbacks of the filibuster, the Washington Examiner pointed out its important benefits, saying "the minority party has certain powers at their disposal to protect their core prerogatives and to stop the majority from getting whatever it wants" in the Senate, but if the filibuster is taken away discussion to take into consideration the concerns of the minority will no longer take place.
In particular, the Examiner states, "By forcing the majority party to clear a 60-vote threshold to move a bill or Supreme Court nomination to final debate, a Republican or Democratic president has to think twice before tapping an individual who is considered a fringe or extremist candidate by the other party."
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