For the third straight day Republican Leader Mitch McConnell defended his parties use of the filibuster while criticizing Democrat’s push for an overhaul in Senate rules.
The filibuster is held by many as a Senate tradition that allows the minority party to hold up legislation, but Democrats argue that the GOP has abused the tool. The reforms are rather simple, but McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid have been jousting over the issue this week while the Democratic caucus is threatening to use the “nuclear option” that would allow a simple 51-vote majority to change the Senate rules.
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, McConnell says he is willing to negotiate rule changes with Reid to reach an agreement. But in an editorial, the GOP leaders ratchets up his criticism that Democrats are threatening a tool that has been a safeguard for the political minority.
From U.S. News & World Report:
The majority leader was once a staunch defender of the Senate’s protection of minority rights. Yet now that he finds himself frustrated he’s prepared to recklessly throw those rules away and his own solemn pledge to defend them.
On Dec. 8, 2006, Senator Reid made a very public pledge: “As majority leader,” he said, “I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect. The Senate was not established to be efficient … The Senate was established to make sure that minorities are protected … I am going to do everything I can to preserve the traditions and rules of this institution that I love.”
It’s hard to imagine a clearer pledge than that. Yet now he wants to break the rules and his own very public pledge to defend those rules at all costs. Make no mistake: What Senator Reid is proposing is a Senate where the only rule is his whim, where the rest of us are bystanders, including the members of his own party and, most importantly, those who sent us here to represent them.
The Republicans have used the procedural tactic an extraordinary amount of times—386—since Democrats took control of the Senate six years ago. And The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein says that many of McConnell’s arguments don’t hold up.
However, when Reid’s party was in the minority they also spoke out against using the “nuclear option” when they were using the filibuster to block former Geroge W. Bush’s judicial nominations.
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