Warren Goes There

Yesterday I wrote that “If Dems are ever again in control of both houses of Congress, watch them end the Senate filibuster, ban gerrymandering nationwide, and institute all kinds of judicial and election reforms.”

Liz Warren has started that ball rolling already. She said this in a speech today:

For generations, the filibuster was used as a tool to block progress on racial justice. And in recent years, it’s been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything.

I’ve only served one term in the Senate — but I’ve seen what’s happening. We all saw what they did to President Obama. I’ve watched Republicans abuse the rules when they’re out of power, then turn around and blow off the rules when they’re in power.

We saw it happen again just this week. Republicans spent years — years — exploiting the rules to slow down or block President Obama’s mainstream judges and executive nominees. But now that they’re in power, they’re unilaterally changing those rules to speed them up and ram through President Trump’s extremist nominees.

So let me be as clear as I can about this. When Democrats next have power, we should be bold: We are done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats.

And that means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama, and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems in this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.

Paul Waldman argues that Republicans have more to lose than Democrats if the filibuster is ended.

Consider the first two years of the Trump administration, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. A Democrat might say, “Imagine what they would have done without the filibuster!” The truth, however, is that they would have done almost exactly what they did do. Their top priority was a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, which they passed using reconciliation, which requires only 50 votes. They tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act but failed to get 50 votes to do so. And that was about the entirety of their ambitious goals.

It isn’t that there weren’t some other things they wanted to do. But they knew that doing them would be politically disastrous. If there were no filibuster, they could outlaw abortion, for instance, but it would be political suicide. So the filibuster actually helps the GOP, by providing an easy excuse for why it doesn’t do the extreme things its base wants.

Democrats, on the other hand, are the party that believes government should do big things to make people’s lives better. So they are almost always going to be the ones proposing ambitious and popular legislation that will be blocked by the filibuster, meaning that it is inherently more restrictive on them than it is on Republicans.

I don’t think Dems have a choice but to end the filibuster if they ever take back the Senate.They’d be fools not to, even knowing that some time in the future it could come back to bite them. If progress isn’t made there may not be a future.

See also: Warren hits it out of the park