Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats -- exasperated with GOP obstruction -- are on the verge of finally killing the odious filibuster. Yesterday, I pointed out why there was no practical downside to this move.
But, as is typical for the timid Democrats, they are only doing it in a half-assed way.
According to the Washington Post, the Senate Democrats are threatening to get rid of the filibuster for all Presidential executive appointments, and for federal judicial appointments below the Supreme Court.
This, of course, prompted the obvious retort from Senate Republicans, as expressed by Chuck Grassley, that if the Democrats do this, the Republicans will also get rid of the filibuster -- if given the chance -- on Supreme Court nominees as well.
And, frankly, he has a point. The Democrats are foolish to think that the Republicans will restrain themselves from abolishing the filibuster on not only Supreme Court nominees, but legislation as well. So, what good does it do to voluntarily restrict your own power -- Senate Democrats -- for absolutely no payoff or benefit?
What if a vacancy comes up on the Supreme Court before the next election? Are you going to allow the GOP to filibuster the President's nominee for that seat until after the midterms in the hope they can take back the Senate? What if, say, Clarence Thomas of Antonin Scalia leaves the Court? Would the Democrats, for the sake of some pie in the sky naive wish for Senatorial comity (as opposed to COMEDY) allow the GOP to filibuster a replacement who could swing the ideological majority of the Court back to the left for decades?
Retaining the filibuster for Legislation, at least, has no practical impact for now. Because the GOP controls the House and can veto any legislation from the Senate anyway. BUT, it also removes a powerful tool from the Senate that they can use to highlight the ideological and policy differences between the parties before the next election. Imagine if the Senate passes a minimum wage increase, an Obamacare fix, and a whole host of other progressive legislation. Then, the House continues to kill it.
They will get pummeled, like they are now getting pummeled on Immigration Reform.
So, there is some utility in killing the Legislative filibuster as well. Although, I think the Constitutional justification for doing so is weaker than for Executive appointments.
In any case, if you are going to kill the filibuster, go all the way. Don't be half-assed about it.
There may be, of course, another reason why the Senate Democrats won't get rid of the legislative filibuster. Right now, the filibuster gives the Senate Democrats cover -- and an excuse -- for not passing progressive legislation. If you get rid of the filibuster -- there go all their excuses.
If there's no filibuster, what's to stop the Democrats from passing a large minimum wage increase? Or passing a new Voting Rights Act? Or passing a new national Abortion Rights Protection Act? Or passing a law to strengthen the right to collective bargaining? You see where this is going, right?
They would no longer be able to hide behind the GOP for not doing what we elected them to do. And, all those corporatist Democrats in the Senate would be exposed for the frauds that they truly are. And, we can't have that, can we?
I think we should apply pressure on them to go all the way. Force them to do the people's business....for once.
Senate Democratic leadership aides tell TIME that the move is preemptive; when the Republicans eventually take over the Senate, the aides assert that the Republicans will push the button.Yep.