The filibuster and the 60-vote threshold to invoke cloture are tried and tested measures in the U.S. Senate intended to “cool off” hot legislation that passes with a simple majority in the U.S. House.
For decades these important rules have become precedent because they encourage what the Senate is historically known for, consensus building and bipartisan compromise. While at times a source of great frustration for the party in power — and for me personally — the filibuster has served our country well because it preserves rights for the minority party and limits the damage done by enacting legislation that creates unintended consequences that is detrimental to all Americans.
This week, liberal Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin has been running point on the left’s latest effort to kill the legislative filibuster so they can pass their left-wing agenda. Durbin called the 60-vote rule a “mockery” that is holding the Senate “hostage.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The American people did not vote for a radical agenda, one way or the other. To the contrary, the American people voted for consensus. President Biden was elected by just over 40,000 votes in three states; Democrats have a tiny five seat majority in the House; and the Senate is knotted at 50-50.
This scenario is the very reason the filibuster exists; extremists inside a scant majority in the U.S. House of Representatives must not have an overriding say on matters that impact the lives of over 300 million Americans. The American people didn’t vote for the Green New Deal, open borders, tax increases, wasteful spending or Medicare-for-All.
The Durbin anti-filibuster charge is puzzling in that Durbin himself — as well as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and many other Senate Democrats — were in office back in 2013 when then-Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the nuclear option in order to move President Obama’s judicial nominations through the Senate advice and consent process.
We all know how this turned out for the Democrats. Senator Reid’s decision paved the way for President Trump and then-Senate Majority Mitch McConnell to team up in confirming an astonishing 231 federal judges who believe in protecting the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Harry Reid’s true legacy is that one quarter of the men and women in the federal judiciary today are Trump appointees.
During the Trump administration, many conservatives became frustrated with the Democrat’s permanent obstruction campaign against President Trump’s America First agenda.
The Democrats’ refusal to participate in the legislative process in a constructive way made suspending filibuster rules tempting to many, including me. I wanted the border wall to be built and sanctuary cities to be defunded, but Democrats weren’t interested in working out a compromise because of their hatred for President Trump.
At the end of the day, President Trump and Leader McConnell decided not to pull the trigger and suspend the legislative filibuster. They understood that opening Pandora’s Box would be detrimental to the conservative policy agenda in the long run. And they also learned a lot from Harry Reid.
Fast-forward to today. President Biden and congressional Democrats are coming to the realization that major items on their far-left agenda won’t pass unless they kill the legislative filibuster.
This decision will be a flashpoint in the early days of the Biden administration. Will Biden — a creature of the Senate for 36 years — stick to his long-held belief that the filibuster is important to leave in place? Or will he cave in to his radical base in favor of a “completely scorched earth Senate” in the words of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell?
If the Democrats decide to go with a scorched earth strategy, they will pay for it immediately.
Biden’s rhetoric about national unity would be dismissed and seen for what it is…fake.
Democrats’ approval ratings would erode, as would generic ballot polling data about which party should control the next Congress. And an already divided country would only become more polarized. Shame on Biden, Harris, Schumer, and Durbin if they decide to go down this road.
Blowing up the legislative filibuster to pass universal mail-in voting, amnesty, gun confiscation, and the Green New Deal will cost Democrats both Houses of Congress in 2022 — less than 20 months from now. And this in effect would mark the end of the Biden agenda.
So, what do President Biden and Senator Schumer want their legacies to be? If they move forward with killing the legislative filibuster, it will be open season for the next Republican president and Republican Congress in 2025.
As Senator McConnell alluded to, this agenda would include defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities once and for all, and passing concealed carry reciprocity gun rights and protections for the unborn.
But that would just be the start. Massive cuts to our bloated federal government would be coming down the pike. The Departments of Labor, Commerce, Education, and EPA would all be abolished. Unconstitutional free speech limits would be lifted. China would be held accountable. School choice would be the law of the land. And the border wall would be completed and illegal immigrants would be sent home instead of given the benefits that should be reserved for hardworking American taxpayers.
We’re about to find out if Joe Biden is a principled leader dedicated to unity and precedent or a tool of the dangerous radical left.