It’s Time to Get Rid of the Legislative Filibuster
Congress passed a Omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2017. Democrats love the bill because it fully funds Planned Parenthood and specifically omits many of President Trump’s legislative priorities, such as funding for his proposed border wall with Mexico.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi undoubtedly spoke for most Democrats when she praised the bill on Monday:
“We have eliminated more than 160 Republican poison pill riders, ranging from undermining a woman’s right to reproductive health to dismantling Dodd-Frank’s vital Wall Street consumer protections… The omnibus does not fund President Trump’s immoral and unwise border wall or create a cruel new deportation force.”
So why are Republicans rushing to pass a budget that Democrats love?
Well, as Breitbart reports, Speaker Paul Ryan wants a bill that will pass the Senate. The Omnibus package requires 60 votes in the Senate to override the legislative filibuster, and Democrats are prepared to use the filibuster to block all of President Trump’s legislative priorities even if it means shutting down the government, as it would in this case if a funding package isn’t passed by Friday at midnight.
Republicans know this, so instead of seeking a government shutdown fight (which scares the heck out of them), they are capitulating on Omnibus now and promising to defund Planned Parenthood and pass other legislative priorities later via the reconciliation process, which would only require 51 votes in the Senate.
This presents a real problem — not everything can be passed via the reconciliation process. So if Democrats are willing to filibuster anything and everything, what do Republicans do with other legislative priorities?
Republicans have a small window here — perhaps only two years — to deliver on their campaign promises. The voters are expecting the GOP to “Make America Great Again” as President Trump vowed on the campaign trail, so what happens if the Democrats filibuster and block tax reform? Health care reform? Immigration enforcement? Infrastructure? Trade reform?
Are Republicans really going to sit back and let the Democratic minority sabotage a once in a lifetime opportunity granted to them by the voters?
Here’s an idea: stop capitulating. Stop empowering the petulant Democratic minority whom the American people voted out of power. End the legislative filibuster, as President Trump suggested in a tweet on Tuesday.
The filibuster may have served a purpose once upon a time as a tool to build consensus, but this isn’t your grandma’s Democratic Party. This is the protest party, the “resist” party, the real party of “No!”
Democrats have no intention to compromise at any point in the conceivable future. The only acceptable “compromise” will be when Republicans completely and utterly capitulate, giving Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the final say on which bills the Republicans actually pass.
Unless GOP leaders get rid of the legislative filibuster.
Many have argued that eliminating the filibuster would be short-sighted, and that Republicans would regret it at some point in the future if/when they find themselves in the minority. But shouldn’t we be skeptical of this argument? After all, this is the Republican Party we’re talking about. When have they been willing to filibuster and risk a government shutdown if it meant putting themselves at risk politically?
The filibuster is a useful weapon for the minority only if they’re willing to use it. Democrats have indicated they are always willing to use it — to the point of obstructing every facet of the Republican agenda. Republicans don’t have the political willpower, let alone the party unity required to stand up for conviction against Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media. When it comes down to it, Republicans in their current condition simply aren’t capable of winning a game of “chicken” against the Democrats.
And this is all a moot point anyway. Even if a future minority GOP managed to find a backbone, there’s no doubt that future Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would get rid of the filibuster in a heartbeat to pass a progressive agenda.
Time is ticking for Republicans. President Trump ran on a bold Make America Great Again agenda. Senate Republicans shocked the world by maintaining their majority. It would be political malpractice if they allowed Senate traditions from bygone eras and a bunch of petulant Senate Democrats to stop them from following through on their campaign promises.