These days it appears that President Obama and his less than 60% majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate will resort to just about anything to have their way in matters of partisan politics. They did it with ObamaCare and now they’re doing it by throwing out centuries of fundamental Senate tradition.
They’ve decided to take the unprecedented step of un-checking the checks and unbalancing the balance to time honored Senate rules of procedure which have prevailed in that chamber for 225 years.
Yesterday they triggered, by a slim wholly partisan margin vote of 52 to 48, the so-called procedural nuclear option for the sole purpose of eliminating filibusters on presidential nominees for appointed government positions.
They’re nuking the filibuster.
The filibuster is a well reasoned political tactic which has saved this nation many times from the foolish machinations of the majority party in Congress. It is a necessary check and balance mechanism against unbridled majority rule.
The minority party in the Senate, (now the Republicans), will no longer enjoy any political leverage against the majority party in matters of involving their traditional constitutional role of advise and consent when it comes to steamrolling the confirmation of most nominees, particularly for sensitive judicial appointments.
Congress has the power to make and enforce its own procedural rules. In the Senate, all the way back to 1789, a majority vote of 60% was required to end debate on any confirmation issue. Thus a minority party could filibuster the debate and thereby effectively block a nominee’s appointment unless the majority could gather the necessary 60 votes to end it.
The Republicans of late have been using the filibuster tactic to successfully block President Obama’s left leaning partisan judicial nominees to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That’s the court which enjoys jurisdiction over most of the regulations formulated by the federal executive branch of the government.
Senate Democrats have been seething over this situation ever since Obama took office. They desperately want left leaning patrician judges on that court. So they’ve now made good on their threat to trigger this dreaded nuclear option.
From now on only 51 votes will be required to end a filibuster and the Democrats presently have more than a 51% majority. It’s going to fundamentally alter the way the Senate has functioned since the birth of or nation and drastically fuel the fires of partisan politics in the future.
Saying that “enough is enough,” President Obama welcomed the end of what he called the abuse of the Senate’s advise and consent function, which he said had turned into “a reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt.
Of course, that is precisely the opposite of what his opinion was when he was running for president in 2008. Both he and now Senate majority lead Harry Reid were extolling the virtues and the absolute necessity of the filibuster then.
“The American people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is, and then devoting their time in elected office to trying to make government not work as often as possible,” Obama hypocritically continued.
But that’s exactly what any self respecting politician should do if he sincerely thinks that the government is terrible. He should introduce gridlock. He should block bad legislation and unsavory appointments. He should filibuster. He should try to make government not work as much and as often as possible. That’s the American way.
“We’re not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer,” snorted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “Some of us have been around here long enough to know that the shoe is sometimes on the other foot.”
“You may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” McConnell warned the Democrats. “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election in 2014.”
When Republicans retake the Senate in 2014 they’ll probably broaden the no filibuster rule to include procedure on U.S. Supreme Court nominees said Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Then the Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the nation’s highest court.
The nation will surely suffer from all this bullshit but those Democrats will certainly get what they deserve for nuking the filibuster.