It’s no secret that my personal political leanings are about 8 miles to the left of Senator Elizabeth Warren. I am liberal, and I am not ashamed to be liberal. My liberal leanings don’t prevent me from understanding history, understanding how the republic works, and understanding that the so called nuclear option pulled by Senator Harry Reid on November 21, isn’t so nuclear.
It was in 1789 at the hand of Aaron Burr that the potential for a filibuster came to exist. Mr. Burr objected to a Senate rule to – move the previous question – and it is in that moment that the potential for a filibuster came to creation within the rules of the Senate.
Mr. Burr’s objection opened a hole in the Senate rules which would allow any member to debate the motion on the floor, without having a method in place to end that debate. In theory the Senate back then could keep debate open all the way to the year of our lord 2013 and there was no method to stop that debate.
The concept of cloture – or the ability to end debate or filibuster by a 60 vote margin – came to be in 1917. President Wilson found that 12 anti-war Senators inhibited his agenda and urged the leader of the Senate to put into place a practice that would end debate.
The use of the filibuster historically has been reserved for legislation that a particular Senator feels passionate about. Think Strom Thurmond’s 24+ hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. It is a fairly safe assumption to think that Thurmond was not pro civil rights.
The filibuster is the one tool any minority has to bring attention to and halt legislation they feel will be harmful to the Republic.
What has evolved in the 21st Century since the election of President Barak Obama is an interesting quandary. The Senate minority given shelter of no longer having to approach the lectern and debate their point often voiced their objection in silence creating a filibuster of sorts. The objection or the threat of the objection has often been enough to kill legislation and nominees and slow down progress.
If you are not a fan of this President, the idea that his appointees are not getting through is not bad news to you. If you are a fan of the Republic this should anger you.
The way to effect change is to win elections. Republicans unable to win two consecutive elections have resorted to dirty tricks. Yes I said dirty tricks.
Holding the threat of filibuster over virtually every piece of legislation and Presidential nominees is a dirty trick. It inhibits the Senate from operating and it snakes into all levels and departments of the government.
If there is no head of the EPA the EPA can not function as designed. Again if you are not a fan this is not a bad thing to you, until you look at something that does matter to you.
This is not to say that there should never be objection to a nominee or piece of legislation. There is certainly a place for objection what should not find a home is objection for the sake of objection.
Between the House of Representatives refusing to bring bills to the floor that do not have the support of the majority of the majority and the Senate’s never ending filibuster legislation has come to a virtual halt in Washington DC. For me personally less legislation from Washington is a good thing. My personal preference is not what is best for the Republic though.
What is best for the republic is that judges be seated, and nominees be approved.
What is best is that the House take fewer votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start looking for ways to improve on it assuming their hatred of the ACA is real.
The obstructionist tactics employed by the House and the Senate left things between a rock and a hard place. One choice would be to allow things to continue as they have, and find that nothing would get done. The other was to employ the so called nuclear option in the Senate.
It appears that the Republicans got so used to obstruction they forgot that giving just a little to the Democrats would have prevented this. Senator Reid refused to alter the rules of the Senate in January when it would have been less obvious and less controversial. It was clear that Reid was unwilling to pull the plug and that the occasional crumb tossed his way would keep him from being hungry.
It is obstructionist, and it can not be denied when you filibuster a judicial nominee with no obvious reason, delay a vote on their approval in excess of over a year, and then when you do finally take the vote there is zero objection, they have zero nay votes.
They brought this on themselves sadly. They’ve also brought to the table the ability for judicial nominees to be approved simply and swiftly. This is not in their favor though considering the Senate is Democratically controlled and President Obama is more liberal than they like.
There are 90+ vacancies on the Federal benches all over the nation. President Obama can now fill all of them, all of those lifetime appointments. Oh My.
What a predicament.