Republicans Defend Filibuster as Every Senator’s Leverage Against ‘Short-Sighted ‘ Radical Politics

Republicans praised the filibuster Tuesday as an essential tool that enables every individual senator in both political parties to slow things down when they believe their colleagues are carelessly rushing too quickly to adopt controversial proposals.

“Allowing individual senators to secure—and, just as importantly, stop—dramatic policy changes is what sets this body apart. The filibuster provides each of us leverage that must be preserved,” Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) told colleagues.

“Unfortunately, many of our colleagues on the other side have succumbed to short-sighted political calculations and are endorsing changing the Senate’s rules in order to jam through their legislative priorities. However, the ability to prevent radical, swift and far-reaching changes that would surely sow confusion and uncertainty is invaluable. As such, I intend to continue protecting it,” Boozman said.

The Arkansas Republican and a succession of other GOP senators spoke throughout the day in a defensive barrage against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) effort to kill the filibuster.

Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden want to kill the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate, so their proposal to federalize elections could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes. The filibuster-ending proposal is possible because of the “nuclear option,” the Senate procedure that allows Senate rules to be changed with a simply majority vote.

There are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate, but Vice-President Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) casts the tie-breaking vote as the presiding officer of the Senate, which would enable passage of the  John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

Those measures would severely limit or eliminate entirely the use of photo IDs and require that all proposed changes to state election laws have prior Department of Justice (DOJ) approval. The Democrats’ proposals lack public support, as recent surveys by RasmussenMonmouthPew, and AP-NORC found 72 to 80 percent support for ballot security measures like requiring photo IDs to vote.

Prospects for passage of the anti-filibuster measure appear dim, however, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have made clear they will vote to preserve the filibuster, which would result in a 52-48 vote against, thus depriving Harris of the opportunity to break a tie.

Schumer and his Democratic colleagues must also consider the potential downsides if they should manage to end the filibuster, including the prospect raised Monday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of forcing a series of votes on hot-button issues like ending vaccine mandates as public support for them drops and stopping executive branch bans on oil fracking at a time when gasoline prices have shot up.

“Since Sen. Schumer is hellbent on trying to break the Senate, Republicans will show how this reckless action would have immediate consequences,” McConnell told the Wall Street Journal.

The Senate Republicans were speaking in response to addresses Biden and Harris were scheduled to deliver later in the day in Atlanta on behalf of the anti-filibuster and voting proposals.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) claimed Schumer’s anti-filibuster effort is aimed at passage of the election reforms that are opposed by voters in his home state of New York.

“The irony here is that New York, home of the Democratic Leader, and Delaware, home of President Biden, have some of the most restrictive voting laws in the entire country,” Ernst said.

“Just this past November, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted down a ballot initiative to allow no excuse absentee voting. New York voters also rejected a proposition that would have allowed individuals to register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day,” Ernst noted.

“Now the senior Senator from New York is threatening to destroy the Senate to override the wishes of the residents of his very own state who voted against the policies he is trying to impose on every other state,” Ernst said.

Earlier in the day, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Republican Whip, lashed Democrats for falsely claiming the filibuster must be abolished because of an alleged crisis in voting rights procedures that threatens to end American democracy.

“If Democrats were really concerned about the security of our democracy and the integrity of our elections—if they really cared about affirming Americans’ faith in our electoral system—they would not be seeking to break the Senate rules to pass a totally partisan election bill on a totally partisan basis,” Thune said.

“A partisan federal election takeover is not going to do anything to strengthen Americans’ faith in our system. On the contrary, it will sow mistrust and division and heighten partisanship. Instead of changing the rules to gain an advantage in the next election, I’d suggest that my Democrat colleagues instead try coming up with an agenda that would appeal to a broad majority of Americans–perhaps starting with a plan to address the inflation crisis Democrats helped create.”

Calling the filibuster the “one consensus building, compromise-encouraging” rule, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) reminded colleagues that major legislation, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the Medicare Act of the same year, were approved with bipartisan support through the 60-vote requirement.

Approving an end to the filibuster would “make us just the House of Representatives, just like every parliament in socialist countries around the world. 51 votes, you get it, destroying that one tool that makes us come together and reach compromise,” Wicker declared.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) warned that abolishing the filibuster “will mean the end of bipartisanship” because, she said, quoting Schumer’s 2005 remarks, that doing so “will wash away 200 years of history and mean doomsday for democracy.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) also quoted Schumer from the Senate’s 2005 filibuster debate, in which the present majority leader said:

“We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances that have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option, the checks and balances which say if you get 51 percent of the vote, you do not get your way 100 percent of the time … That is what we call an abuse of power. There is, unfortunately, a whiff of extremism in the air.”

Schumer in 2005 was opposing a Republican proposal to end the filibuster as a means of ending Democratic delays in voting on then-President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees.

A compromise that brought some of the most important nominations to votes enabled the Senate to maintain the filibuster from 2005 to 2013 when Senate Democrats used the nuclear option to end the 60-vote requirement on all judicial nominations except those for the Supreme Court. Republicans, led by McConnell, then ended the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations in 2017.

Mark Tapscott

Congressional Correspondent


Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.

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