Thoughts On U.S. Senate’s ‘Nuclear Option’ Over Filibuster Reform


I am a liberal, and a proud one.

I am also a bit of a stickler when it comes to the process of government.  As such I am not gleeful over the filibuster reform that took place today in the United States Senate.  As I have noted before on this blog concerning this matter I do not want the majority to control the rules of the body (regardless of which side has the majority), but I also know that the partisan plays from the Republicans have brought this nation to legislative gridlock through their abuse of the filibuster rule.

Over the course of our legislative history this is a relatively new political tactic that has grown worse in the last 25 years, and it is one of the main themes I have argued makes for not only a lack of progress with bills, nominations, etc, but also creates in the view of citizens s a sense that congress can not achieve anything.  The idea that everything now needs 60 votes does not allow for government to function in the way it needs to in order to meet the national needs.

Again, history shows playing with the filibuster rule as the Republicans have done, and in the volume we have witnessed, means that GOP partisan strategy needed to be reined in, and not allowed to further disrupt the large process of government.  Since 2007, the Senate Historical Office has shown, Democrats have had to end Republican filibusters nearly 400 times, a historic record.  Senators don’t even have to actually filibuster anymore, not the way Allen Drury so dramatically wrote about in one of his intense books in the Advise and Consent series..   Now all a Republican need do (prior to the reform enacted today for nominees to agencies or the courts) was simply raise the threat and that brings the discussion to an end.

For purely partisan reasons, devoid of any concern for policy, the filibuster has been partially employed.  In short, what it allows is for only 41 senators to completely bring the business of the nation to a halt.  The majority of the body may be settled on a bill or nominee, and know that something has to be done, but 41 senators can block the path forward.  To achieve madness all these 41 members need do is not vote for cloture, which is the vote taken to shut down the promise of endless debate.  In other words the other 59 senators–the majority–are left swinging in the wind.

One does not need to search hard to locate the numerous cases where talented, uncontroversial, and fine examples of judicial nominees were never acted on–though there was majority support–because 41 Republicans wanted to slow down, stall, blockade, and ultimately blow-up the process.  We saw that play out earlier this week once again, and needlessly so.

If anyone has a problem with the reforms that were made by the Democrats they might first ask what they did to make sure reasonable use of the filibuster was used.

As I have stated here before when commenting on this matter would it not be best if the moderates in the middle (from both parties) would be more numerous and vocal and allow government to again function the way we know it was designed to, and once actually did?

3 thoughts on “Thoughts On U.S. Senate’s ‘Nuclear Option’ Over Filibuster Reform

  1. Tom and Ferrell,

    Both your comments underscore the reason the GOP has lost its way, and why the Democrats felt a need to enact this reform. Had your party been reasonable and done the work of government, as it has long been conducted in this nation, there would have been no need for the action.

    Republicans have felt that President Obama is not worthy of the same respect or honor that any other person elected to the White House has had. As such conservatives thought they need not honor the power of the president to put his appointees through in the wake of an election….two elections. You both know that can not stand.

    There is no “court packing” at all. That is a truly absurd comment. Grassley and others have no desire to pass the appointees of the president to the bench, and having no other real reason as the nominees are ethical and intelligent has resorted to claiming there are just too many judges on certain benches. ABSURD! (Tom, you are too smart to parrot that phrase.)

    Did you note that McCain and Graham did not at the last minute try to foster some deal to not have the reform from taking place, as they have in the past? That is because the conservatives have ‘leaped over the shark’. I use the old Happy Days plot line there as it is to underscore how far from reality you party has traveled. The mature ones in the GOP are working to save their party and not have it continue to be the laughing stock of the nation.

    The Republican Party ran out of ideas and so over the last five years has attacked the president’s character and legitimacy. That will no longer work in the senate.

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