Today former Senate Leader Harry Reid passed away. Our condolences to his family, and we recognize his lasting impact on the Senate.
Harry Reid's legacy lives on. The most long-lasting part of his legacy may be the changing of the Senate filibuster in a fit of pique over DC Circuit judicial nominees. Ironically, part of the reason for the Republican effort to block DC Circuit nominees was a nonpartisan belief that the DC Circuit does not need as many judges. Republican Judiciary Committee leader Senator Charles Grassley was advocating reducing the number of judges on the DC Circuit, as the caseload did not justify it size. He did this under Republican and Democrat Presidents. Senate Leader Harry Reid changed the rules on a partisan vote to nuke the filibuster in a fit of partisan rage. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated at the time:
McConnell was quick to criticize Reid’s plan, accusing Democrats of trying to divert attention from the embattled health care law that has been a drag on the party. McConnell said Democrats were cooking up a “fake fight over judges that aren’t even needed.”
“You’ll regret this and you might regret it even sooner than you might think,” McConnell warned.
That regret came back to haunt the Democrats in 2016, when Justice Scalia died, and in 2017 when Senator Schumer, on a purely partisan filibuster, attempted to block Justice Gorsuch. Following Reid's precedent on judges, Republicans changed the rules, and because of Senator Reid we have Justice Gorsuch today. If Reid had never nuked the filibuster on judges, Justice Gorsuch could have been filibustered, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh certainly would have been.
Many Democrats have made it clear that they hope the filibuster is abolished, but a Democrat congresswoman is showing that there are still divisions within the party on the issue. In an interview with CNN, Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), once believed to be a contender for the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Marco Rubio, expressed doubts over whether the filibuster should be discontinued.Read more
With the Democrats' federal takeover of elections in jeopardy, one Democrat leader is trying to force Joe Biden's hand on the filibuster. Previously, the President has given mixed signals on whether he supports the procedure which safeguards the influence of the minority party in the Senate. POLITICO reported:
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told POLITICO Biden “should endorse” the idea of creating a carveout to the legislative filibuster in the Senate for legislation that applies to the Constitution. In effect, the reform would make it possible for Democrats to pass their sweeping elections reform bill and another bill reauthorizing key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act with just Democratic support.Read more
For the second time this year, Democratic members of the Texas Legislature fled the state in protest of proposed election reforms so that the Texas House would be unable to conduct official business due to a lack of quorum. This time, they did so via party bus and private jet. The Federalist reported:
Texas Democrats throwing a tantrum over an election integrity bill are claiming their swift exit from the state on private jets was a “sacrifice” in their fight against “voter suppression” in the state.Read more
President Joe Biden gave a shaky press conference yesterday. There is no better example than his statements on the filibuster. He flat out contradicted himself, admitted Senate Democrats behaved badly, and was confused about history.
Let’s start with which party abused the filibuster. President Biden stated:
You know, with regard to the filibuster, I believe we should go back to a position on the filibuster that existed just when I came to the United States Senate 120 years ago. And that is that — it used to be required for the filibuster — and I had a card on this; I was going to give you the statistics, but you probably know them — that it used to be that, that from between 1917 to 1971 — the filibuster existed — there was a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster that whole time. Last year alone, there were five times that many. So it’s being abused in a gigantic way.Read more
Senator Schumer is scared of a primary challenge from far left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He is willing to go to any extreme to appease the radical fringes of the Democratic Party including blowing up the Senate to do so. A good example of this is talk of eliminating the legislative filibuster. Not only have Democrat Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin said they will not vote to repeal the legislative filibuster, but even liberal stalwarts such as Dianne Feinstein have hesitated to do it (she is now showing signs that she might cave to pressure after flip flopping on the issue literally overnight). As Republican Leader McConnell stated last week:
“He is yielding to the pressure of the hard left to turn the Senate into a speedway, as opposed to a place where things are paused and thought over,” McConnell said during an interview with Fox News’s Harris Faulkner. . . .Read more
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signaled that he may be throwing his support behind the progressive movement to dismantle the filibuster in its current form. But even Democrats know that getting rid of the legislative filibuster would be a bad idea. . . As Politico reports:
Two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are hard opponents of changes to the 60-vote threshold. But that duo's firm resistance is obscuring the size of another, bigger faction in the Democratic caucus — call them softer opponents of ending the filibuster.Read more
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has always defended maintaining the legislative filibuster while Republicans were in both the majority and the minority. This is a bipartisan issue which even former-Senators Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have also supported. It should be noted the legislative filibuster is very different from the filibuster used on nominations which was mostly eliminated by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried in 2013. (Senator McConnell ended it for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 when Democrats filibustered Justice Neil Gorsuch's nomination.)
However, Sen. Chuck Schumer is flirting to remove this critical democratic process. McConnell is fighting to preserve the legislative filibuster which lets a senator extend debate and requires controversial bills to muster 60 votes to proceed to a final up-or-down vote.Read more
During his remarks at civil rights giant John Lewis's funeral last week, former President Barack Obama took advantage of the opportunity to argue that the Senate filibuster is a "Jim Crow relic" that should be abolished if it gets in the way of a Democrat-authored bill that seeks to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act from passing. But President Obama himself has used the filibuster, most notably during the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.Read more