David Harsanyi: Save the filibuster from Harry Reid’s dirty clutches
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the man who once argued that weakening the Senate filibuster would “destroy the very checks and balances our Founding Fathers put in place to prevent absolute power by any one branch of government,” is supposedly ready to use the “nuclear option.” It would allow a simple majority to change rules to overcome a filibuster. And no matter how narrow Reid says the scope of his power grab would be, in the long run, it would kill the filibuster, and he knows it.
Perhaps Merkley is under the impression that a constitutional mandate compels the GOP to ensure that a far-left-wing populist is running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which didn’t even exist until 2011) or the National Labor Relations Board. Maybe he believes that Republicans are under an obligation to provide him with acceptable philosophical reasons to oppose nominees and legislation. Neither of those is a prerequisite for filibustering.
As for Reid, the threat of filibuster reform may well be politics, a bluff meant to bring attention to these saboteurs of progress in the Senate. But for many activists pushing Democrats, it’s about a lot more. Though both parties detest the filibuster when in power, progressives hold an enduring contempt for it because they hold an enduring contempt for federalism in general. A more majoritarian process makes it easier to cash in on fleeting public sentiments and steamroll an array of comprehensive “reforms” to impel even the most reactionary states to partner up with Washington.
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