Reform the filibuster with the ‘constitutional option’ now


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Oh boo-freakin'-hoo. The consumate Beltway media villager, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post/Pete Peterson Foundation partnership, is clutching his pearls and reaching for his smelling salts over Democratic discussions to reform the Senate cloture rules, aka the "filibuster." Cillizza is is one of those Beltway Green Lanternites who observe Republicans engage in uprecedented obstruction and abuse of the Senate rules, and then blames Democrats and President Obama for "failing" to pass legislation while holding the Tea-Publican tyrrany harmless. Cillizza warns, Democrats want to change filibuster rules. They should think twice.:

Senate Democrats are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it
anymore when it comes to what they argue is the obstruction for
obstruction’s sake that their Republican counterparts are practicing
when it comes to votes on President Obama’s nominees for cabinet
positions and agency posts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is set to convene a special
caucus meeting on Thursday to strategize about whether or not his fellow
Democrats want to exercise the so-called “nuclear option” of changing
Senate rules to eliminate filibusters on these sorts of nominees and
instead have a simple majority vote for confirmation. (The current bar
to end filibusters is 60 votes; 67 votes are traditionally required to
change Senate rules.)

While Reid has threatened this sort of change before — and never made
good on it — there does seem to be some belief among smart people on
Capitol Hill that the long-awaited confrontation might be coming. (The New York Times wrote a nice primer on how we got to this point.)

There may well be legitimate procedural and policy reasons for Reid
to seriously entertain changing the rules. But, the political
consequences of doing so are all bad for Democrats and should give the
Senate Majority Leader pause before he agrees to the change.

Here’s why.

Reid and his Democratic allies seem to believe that by limiting the
rule change to simply cabinet and agency appointments, they can keep the
long-term implications on the chamber to a minimum.

But, politics works on the slippery slope principle. That means that
if Democrats cross the line to change a rule to benefit them when they
are in the majority, it sets a precedent for rule-changing that is not
limited to filibusters on agency and cabinet nominees in future Senates —
including those controlled by Republicans.

“Once the trigger is pulled, there would be no limit to the
consequences. Not just for Republicans or for our country – but for
Democrats too,” warned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the floor today.
“They should think very carefully about what the ramifications will be
for them when a future Republican President makes his own appointments
to the Cabinet and the federal bench.”

The Septegenarian Ninja Turtle is making terrorist threats again, but that does not seem to bother this Beltway media villager. "Democrats should be afraid, be very afraid!" Right. For insisting that the U.S. Constitution be followed as it was intended — that's why it is called the "constitutional option" villager, not the "nuclear option" the media villagers prefer.

The likely result of such a move, at least in the short term, would be
that more liberal legislation would move through the Senate thanks to
the Democratic majority and Republicans’ inability to exert their
blocking tactics.

Cillizza then goes into his political analysis of congressional races that one should ignore because he is so frequently wrong. And then he blesses us with his Beltway media villager "conventional wisdom" (C.W. is always wrong):

Reid might give in to [Democrats] demands on the filibusters of agency and
cabinet nominees. If he does, Reid is opening a political Pandora’ box
that even he — a consummate pol who tends to see a few steps ahead of
most of his colleagues — might not grasp the full impact of.

Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog has a realist's response to Chris Cillizza.

How Much Worse Can the Senate Get?

It’s not at all clear that if Democrats invoked the “nuclear trigger”
and Republicans went absolutely insane in retaliatory wrath, we’d even be able to tell the difference
What can Senate Republicans threaten to do that they’re not already
doing in the way of impeding the traditional functioning of Congress and
of the federal government in general? Sabotage the implementation of
major legislation already enacted (check)? Gum up federal agency
operations (check)? Risk a debt default (check)?

What WaPo’s Greg Sargent today calls
the “post-policy nihilism” of the GOP has, oddly enough, decreased its
leverage. Issuing a credible threat to do something irresponsible loses
its power when irresponsibility has become a daily habit. Senate
Democrats could justifiably decide to limit changes in the filibuster
rules to a regime they are willing to live with if they are in the
minority. They might also find good reason to distinguish between the
rules that govern lifetime judgeships and temporary Cabinet positions.
But Republican threats should not be a factor. There’s too little left
in that particular strategic reserve.

So it's your move, Honey Badger. Harry Reid balked back in January in exchange for a "gentleman's agreement" with the Septegenarian Ninja Turtle, who immediately reneged on your deal. Mitch McConnell can never be trusted, you should know that. It is time to restore constitutional priciples of democratic governance to the U.S. Senate with the "constitutional option." Let's end this Tea-Publican tyranny of the minority. And then let's kick their insurrectionist sorry asses out of office!

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.