Did you know? The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign.

Rich Lowry / March 19, 2021

Democrats Would Regret Nuking the Filibuster

Back in 2017, more than 30 Senate Democrats, including Kamala Harris, signed a letter urging the tactic be preserved.

There’s nothing that ails Joe Biden’s agenda, we are supposed to believe, that ending the filibuster wouldn’t fix.

President Joe Biden showed a little leg on changing the filibuster in an ABC News interview, while almost every Senate Democrat wants to ditch it. Even Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who still supports the filibuster, said a couple of weeks ago that resorting to it should be more “painful.”

Senate Democrats probably remain a few votes shy of really being able to trash the filibuster, which would require the support of every Democrat (plus Vice President Kamala Harris as the 51st vote), but they are steadily talking themselves into curtailing or abolishing the filibuster as a political and moral necessity.

This would be a mistake, both for the institution of the Senate and for the narrow partisan interests of the Democrats.

One would think that the experience that the party had the last time it took a hatchet to the filibuster would warn it off any repeat.

In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blew up the filibuster for most presidential nominations. No longer would it take a cloture vote passed with the support of 60 senators to confirm nominees, rather a simple majority. Reid did this against the warnings of then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell because he and the Democrats had worked themselves into a lather to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It’s a cliche for senators who support the filibuster to say that control of the body inevitably changes, but it’s true. Today’s triumphant, inflamed majority tempted to ditch the filibuster is tomorrow’s embattled, desperate minority using it to wield influence that it otherwise wouldn’t have.

Three years after Reid’s move, McConnell was using it to render Democrats bystanders as he transformed the federal judiciary. President Donald Trump got about as many nominees on federal appellate courts in four years as Obama did in eight.

Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, said they regretted what Reid had done, although Schumer has now apparently gotten over it.

If the rules around the filibuster have changed over time, the basic practice dates from the beginning of the Senate. The tactic got its name in the mid-19th century and has remained part of the identity of the Senate ever since.

There is now an effort to brand the filibuster as inherently an instrument of hatred and repression. The filibusters of civil-rights legislation in the mid-20th century are justly notorious, but the tactic has often been used to progressive ends, most recently thwarting as much of Trump’s legislative agenda as possible.

Back in 2017, more than 30 Senate Democrats, including Kamala Harris, signed a letter urging the tactic be preserved. Of course, Biden himself has long favored it. As late as last year, he was saying that ending the filibuster would be “a very dangerous move.”

Democrats have changed their tune now, obviously, because they control the Senate. But the timing still isn’t propitious for them. It’s not as though the Democrats have a robust majority. They have the slightest advantage, thanks to Harris, in a 50-50 Senate. An unexpected retirement or illness could put their control in jeopardy, and it’s hardly a guarantee they will hold the majority after 2022.

Even if they ended the filibuster tomorrow, it’s not clear that their most prized priorities, like the H.R. 1 voting bill, could even get 50 votes to pass.

Biden and Manchin are flirting with the idea of restoring the “talking filibuster,” which would require senators to hold the floor to keep up a filibuster. This makes even less sense. A return to the talking filibuster would allow Republicans to eat up more of the Senate’s time and soak up cable TV and social media attention in the bargain.

Despite all of this, Democrats may eventually persuade themselves to move against the filibuster anyway — and, once again, experience momentary satisfaction and lasting regret.

© 2021 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.