Destroying the Filibuster without Firing a Shot


On Wednesday, Huffington Post reported on the filibuster deal that was garnered on Tuesday. The deal itself appears pretty simple – the Senate Majority Leader kept the filibuster in place, and Republicans allowed a number of the President’s nominees through.

There are at least four major problems with this deal, problems that should have prevented it from ever happening in the first place:

1. This deal wasn’t brokered to better America. It was brokered to protect the turf of both the Democratic and Republican parties in Washington. Once again, America is being undercut by old-school politicians who would rather go along to get along than hold to any sort of actual principles on…  anything.

2. Richard Cordray is now going to run the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB). Republicans wanted this “Tzar” position decentralized into a five-member commission, as well as the budget for the CFPB brought under Congressional control. Instead, GOP leadership capitulated to Dood-Frank sponsoring Democrats on the agency issuing mortgage guidelines for large banks. What could possibly go wrong?

3. The key component of the deal is this: Republicans in the Senate will cave to President Obama on his National Labor Relations Board nominees. In short, the nominees two different federal courts have found were appointed unconstitutionally –the Supreme Court will consider this next term – will leave the National Labor Relations Board, and replacement nominees will be guaranteed Senate approval. Elections have consequences, but Republicans are leaving the President to nominate anyone he wants, guaranteeing that these new nominees will be just as distasteful as the ones leaving.

Part of the deal looks good at first glance, McConnell gets to appear like he’s making Reid/Obama back off on unconstitutional appointments. What he doesn’t want publicized is that the Democrats can now use the threat of Republican filibuster against the GOP itself. If Minority Leader McConnell thinks Harry Reid won’t reuse this successful strategy when he really wants something, it’s time for new, less naïve leadership.

4.The battle over the filibuster is exactly what’s wrong with Washington. Respecting minority rights is a time-honored American tradition. By threatening the filibuster with elimination, Senator Reid just made the Senate a more elitist version of the House. The Framers’ goal for the upper chamber was as balance to the House’s “majority rules” tradition, not a rubber stamp.

This deal is a very bad one for the country. The one thing Senator McConnell may try to use in the defense of this compromise – one Huffington Post notes he presented months ago, even though he was not involved in the deal that was finally cut this week – is that Senator Reid had the 51 votes necessary to dissolver the filibuster. Tea Party Patriots Legislative Consultant Bill Pascoe says it’s a paltry defense:

If McConnell was a better leader, he would have spent the last five months since the last discussion of the “nuclear option” quietly figuring out the five Senate Democrats he needs to oppose Reid. With 46 Republicans, none of whom would abandon their leadership in a time of crisis if McConnell had actually led, he could easily have gotten support from Democrats vulnerable in 2014, or those who have been part of the institution for decades, and thus understand the value of the filibuster.

Overall, Republican leadership traded the rules of the Senate for a talking point on cable TV. Senator Reid now has a new weapon in his arsenal against conservatives and Senator McConnell has guaranteed the GOP’s best weapon in the Senate against President Obama will be largely ineffective until beyond  the 2014 elections.

Senator McConnell? Lead, follow, or get out of the way.