Senate Republicans Clear the Nuclear Option

Two big news items already this morning. One, “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will temporarily step aside from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including interactions between Moscow and the Trump campaign,” Politico says.

But don’t get excited: “The Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation will be taken over by Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).” Meh.

The other items is that the Democrats blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court from advancing in the Senate under the old rules. Senate Republicans have already voted to pull the plug on Senate filibuster rules so that Gorsuch can be confirmed with a simple majority vote.

Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed tomorrow with 52 Republican votes, plus the votes of three Democrats — Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Donnelly (IN). Remember those names. I believe all three of them are up for re-election in 2018.

There is considerable hand-wringing going on about how awful it is that Democrats are doing this awful thing. The more I hear about Gorsuch, however, the more I think he will be a disaster. There’s no point waiting for a worse crisis to blow up the Senate; he’s bad enough.

At the NY Times, Steven Waldman makes a good argument that we might all be better off without the filibuster, or at least what the filibuster has become.

In truth, eliminating the filibuster would be a minor change compared with the problem that such a move would solve: the recent rise of a system based on supermajority rule rather than majority rule.

Of course, the modern filibuster doesn’t require senators to give speeches through the night. It’s all very abstract; in the case of nonspending bills, the minority party simply lets it be known that it has enough votes to block the legislation.

In effect, the minority party now gets to decide when a bill should require 60 votes instead of 51.

The switch to supermajority rule happened without a constitutional amendment, without a national debate, without its even becoming a major issue in a presidential campaign. Because it happened gradually, we didn’t fully appreciate: The 788 filibusters since 2007 — those were the “nuclear” moments. …

… Under the filibuster rules in place at the time of the New Deal, Republicans could have blocked the Security Exchange Act, the National Labor Relations Act and the Tennessee Valley Authority, according to the journalist Charles Peters’s new book, “We Do Our Part.”

And if the Senate had been operating under majority rule during the Obama and Bush administrations, the following bills would have gained Senate approval: the Toomey-Manchin background check bill for guns; the provision allowing people to have a “public option” for health care on the Obamacare exchanges; comprehensive immigration reform; an increase in the minimum wage; and the bipartisan campaign finance bill, called the Disclose Act.

The Democrats, Waldman argues, have been entirely too nice. They should have ended the filibuster years ago, when they had the chance.

To clarify, Republicans today only killed the filibuster as it relates to Supreme Court nominees. But Waldman argues that the whole thing should be done away with. And let the chips fall.

I’m sure there are good arguments for the other side, but “keep your powder dry” isn’t one of them. At Vox, Dylan Matthews argues that maybe Democrats should allow Gorsuch to be approved so that they might be able to stop the next right-wing judge from being appointed. But I don’t see the sense of that. Republicans would just pull the trigger on the filibuster next time. What’s the point?

Our only real hope of the complete takeover of SCOTUS is to hope the Dems take back the Senate in 2018 and that no other justice dies or resigns before then. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what the Dems do now. Republicans will ram through their judges any way they can.

10 thoughts on “Senate Republicans Clear the Nuclear Option

  1. I love listening to Mitch “Ye Ol’ Turtle” McConnell go on and on about the loss of comity. To me, that’s comedy!
    Which party has been acting like Nihilist/Anarchist assholes for decades?
    It sure ain’t the Dem’s!

    And as for the loss of the filibuster, I say “GREAT!”
    For too many decades, during Republicans Presidents who had Republican Senate and/or, the Dem’s stopped the voters from feeling the full wrathful impact of their votes for Republicans – Democratic Presidents who had GOP Congresses used the veto to also soften the impact.
    The Dem’s acted like practice boxing-gloves, preventing the bare-knuckle punches of conservative decisions to affect the day-to-day lives of the voters.

    Now, the Republicans will own all of their legislation, lock(step), stock(answers), and (gun)barrel(s, pointed at the hearts and heads of “We the People…)!

    Every day, I read some stories about some t-RUMP-voting schmucks – or their family member(s) – who are devasted by t-RUMP’s immigration policy – or, some other one.

    Well, now the whole nation will feel the impact of having wrathful, hateful, bigoted, misogynistic, assholes making the laws.
    And, once again, with new SC Judge, “Gorsucks,” a majority of bigoted and misogynistic assholes who will uphold those laws.

    Our road to becoming a full-fledged Banana Republic is now clear – thanks to banana’s conservatives.
    If we – and the world – survive the next few years, maybe some of our rural/suburban dipshits who keep voting for Republicans will realize the error of their ways, now that the Dem’s will no longer be able to softed the conservatives blows.

    I’m 59, so I probably don’t have long to suffer under these idiots – one way, or the other. But I feel sorry for folks younger than I am – at least the non-conservative ones.
    There’s no joy in conservatism. Only hatred, fear, bigotry, and projection of their problems onto others.

    As for the 3 “Democrats” who are voting for “gorsucks,” I say “FUCK YOU!!!!!”
    I hope that some real Democrats primary them. And if not, they deserve to fucking lose. What the fuck good are you as a Democrat, if you pull this shit at a critical time like this. “FUCK ‘EM, TOO!!!!!”

  2. What will be funny is when the GOP is in the minority and they demand the filibuster back.

    With Nunes stepping aside, most likely at Paul Ryan’s insistence, one wonders if Ryan is starting to take Trump down. Last week Breitbart went after Ryan (and Trump did not). I heard but didn’t check – Ryan’s numbers were hurt. SO, with big friendly smiles on their faces, are Trump and Ryan maneuvering to stab each other?

  3. OT – It looks to me like the WH is adopting an anti-Assad posture. The Kremlin has signaled that their support for Assad is not unconditional. As I read the tea leaves, Trump will not fight the Russians and he’s desperate to look like he’s not under Putin’s orders. So Putin may tell Assad to grab the money and retire in Moscow. In exchange for that concession to Trump, the Kremlin replacement will secure for Moscow everything Putin wants.

    Putin exchanges one dictator for another – Trump tries to take credit for masterful diplomacy and nothing changes except a small player. And Trump is still Putin’s puppet, an asset far more important than Assad.

  4. Bannon getting cock blocked by the Jewish kid has to look really really really bad to his crowd.

  5. Adam Schiff on Rachael’s show just now says 59 Tomahawk cruise missles launched at a airfield in Hom Syria.
    Noticed he waited for HRC to give him permission…

  6. The audio at most junior high schools is better than on Trumps taped release just now.

  7. “Republicans would just pull the trigger on the filibuster next time. What’s the point?”
    Agreed, I mean McTurtle is the majority leader for Christs sake, any rule, any norm, the constitution, they all mean nothing to Mitch. Mitch seems to get what Mitch wants. I’ve never seen a person that can lie, cheat and steal so effortlessly! I love this clip it says it all!

  8. “The Democrats, Waldman argues, have been entirely too nice.”

    “Being nice” is their default approach, but the democrats behavior at times go beyond being “nice” to just plain naive and foolish, and downright cowardly. The republicans have, for years now, approached government as nothing more than political gamesmanship. EVERYTHING they do is with political opportunism as the first and in many cases the only priority, which is another way of saying they’re not interested in governing, but is a more accurate depiction of what they are about. Dems need to be publicly honest about that. For example, “Maverick” McCain made a great case for why it would be “idiotic and stupid” to abolish tradition and go nuclear, yet when it came time to vote on the nuclear option, he voted for it. It is foolish to think these people are sincere about anything other than furthering their own political fortunes.

    For that reason, its not in them to respect tradition or norms when there exist any levers they can legally use, including extralegal or even illegal ones at that, to get their way, like this nuclear option. Its naïve and foolish of dems to think that at any point they can appeal to their better natures and expect them to respond in kind. The reality is they have no better natures, and its a form of insanity to think that one day they will respond positively to such appeals.

    Just before he left, Obama had a small window of opportunity to appoint Merrick Garland to the supreme court. Granted, this would have been an approach fraught with legal issues that could have ultimately doomed it, but at least it would have shown that democrats are willing to reach for all the levers open to them as the GOP has always done. And let’s face it; the GOP knows that they can get away with political street fighting because they know the democrats see themselvwes as too damned genteel to respond in kind. And here’s the truly maddening part: instead of pushing these incremental, polite, politically correct measures designed to not piss anyone on the right off, and practicing gentility for its own sake, the voters want to see them stand up and fight, and would support them for it. We might even have a democrat in the white house today had they done that.

    Part of the reason for the democrats behavior is pushing back on republicans using every measure to do so means to upset some of their own wealthy donors. Another reason why, until the party moves left, at least somewhat, and is willing to rely on technology and sweat equity to raise funds in small donations to fund their campaigns, the next best thing to public funding, and educate and get their voters to the polls, sure, they’ll have some minor Pyrrhic victories here and there, like “successfully” filibustering Gorsuch, but we should expect them to continue to ultimately be on the losing end of these fights.

Comments are closed.