Harry Reid fights to save the filibuster.
His rousing opening states:
The filibuster is far from a “procedural gimmick.” It is part of the fabric of this institution. It was well known in colonial legislatures, and it is an integral part of our country’s 217 years of history.
Reid even went so far as to invoke two Presidents:
Jefferson asked Washington what is the purpose of the Senate?Reid further went on to discuss how the filibuster is a tool that provides a voice the minority and thereby a check on the majority.
Washington responded with a question of his own, “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?”
“To cool it,” Jefferson replied.
To which Washington said; “Even so, we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”
He went on to list some achievements made possible by the filibuster:
I spoke yesterday about Senator Holt and his 1939 filibuster to protect workers’ wages and hours.He also acknowledged the ills of the filibuster, but of course the filibuster is a tool and it can be used for good or evil obviously.
There are also recent examples of the filibuster achieving good.
In 1985, Senators from rural states used the filibuster to force Congress to address a major crisis in which thousands of farmers were on the brink of bankruptcy.
In 1995, the filibuster was used by Senators to protect the rights of workers to a fair wage and a safe workplace.
He ended up with a rousing condemnation for those seeking to nuke the filibuster:
Some in this Chamber want to throw out 217 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.Eliminating the filibuster today is like stopping exercise because you don't like the inconvenience. Just because you don't like how it is being used today doesn't mean you won't appreciate the use of it when we are in the minority.
They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington.
They want to do away with the filibuster.
They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.
I doubt that’s true.
It is easy to explain the hypocrisy of Reid now pushing the end of the filibuster after being so vocal in support of it. When you are the majority leader it is a frustrating impediment to your job. When you are in the minority it is your only way to defend your constituents. Easy to see how opportunism leads both sides to have a love/hate with the filibuster. But rule making without some ability to think ahead will always bite you.