Friday, April 07, 2017
GOP Bans Judicial Filibuster - Is Legislative Filibuster Next?
They did it! The Republican senators ignited the so-called "nuclear option". They banned the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
The Democrats had said they had the 41 votes needed to sustain the filibuster against approval of Neil Gorsuch to be a Supreme Court justice -- and they actually exceeded that number with 42 Democrats and 2 Independents voting to keep the filibuster going. Majority Leader McConnell then questioned whether a filibuster could be stopped by requiring 60 votes -- and demanded a vote to lower that to a simple majority. He won that vote 52 to 48 -- with all Republicans voting to end judicial filibusters and all Democrats (with both Independents) voting to keep the filibuster.
Don't fool yourself. This is not a one-time thing. It is permanent. Whatever the majority party in the future, you can bet they won't reinstate the old rule (requiring 60 votes to stop a filibuster). No politician (or political party) willingly gives up power once they have it.
The question now is whether the Republicans would end the filibuster on legislative matters. McConnell has said he doesn't want to do that -- but he also said he didn't want to end judicial filibusters (and did it anyway).
The Republicans have an agenda they would like to pass -- building a $21 billion border wall, giving the rich and corporations massive tax cuts, deregulating Wall Street and corporations, cutting Social Security benefits, privatizing Medicare, making massive cuts to domestic programs, etc.
The Democrats are opposed to all of that, and Senate Democrats have now shown they are not afraid to use the filibuster. That gives the GOP a choice -- compromise with Democrats or eliminate the filibuster altogether. They have shown no interest in trying to compromise, and now have experience in destroying time-honored Senate traditions.
Will they destroy the legislative filibuster to get what they want? It would be a shame, but I wouldn't bet against it. And if they did, that would also be permanent -- making the Senate just a smaller version of the House (where a slim majority can impose its will, and the minority party has no say in anything).