On her presidential-campaign website, Sen. Elizabeth Warren says her plan for “gun-violence prevention” includes breaking what she calls the National Rifle Association’s “stranglehold of Congress” by — among other things — “eliminating the filibuster.”
For the Massachusetts Democrat, the end might justify the means, but as a senator, she surely knows that she can’t eliminate the legislative filibuster a la carte. It’s all or nothing: There either will be a legislative filibuster available to the minority party in the Senate to thwart any legislation it opposes or no filibusters at all.
Nevertheless, there’s little doubt the hyperliberal presidential hopeful wants the Senate to abolish the filibuster outright. That’s because if, somehow, she were to win the White House in November and Democrats retook control of the Senate, a President Warren could ram through her far-left agenda with no recourse for a conservative Republican minority.
Mrs. Warren apparently learned nothing from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s detonation of the “nuclear option” in November 2013, when the Democrats still controlled the Senate. She was finishing her first year in the Senate when the Nevada Democrat orchestrated his party’s unilateral abolition of the filibuster on nominations to the executive branch and to the federal district and appellate courts. (The filibuster was left in place for legislation and with respect to U.S. Supreme Court nominees.)
Mr. Reid’s ham-handed rule change was intended to override Republican senators’ opposition to President Obama’s liberal judicial nominees. The rule change was approved 52-48, with zero Republican support and just three of the Senate’s 55 Democrats and nominally “independent” allies opposed.
Mrs. Warren dutifully marched in party lockstep, as did the three other senators also vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
The “nuclear option” was premised on what turned out to be short-sighted wishful thinking; namely, that Democrats would hold the Senate in perpetuity and that no Republican would ever again win the White House. The naked power grab backfired, big time, on Democrats when Republicans retook control of the Senate just 12 months later and Donald Trump won the presidency two years after that.
Senate Democrats at the time failed to heed the warning of Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, then the minority leader. “You’ll regret this,” he cautioned, “and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”
Upon becoming majority leader, Mr. McConnell saw to it that Mr. Reid’s maneuver boomeranged on Democrats. He upped the ante by jettisoning the filibuster against Supreme Court nominees, which ensured Senate confirmation of constitutionalist conservative judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh over Democrats’ objections. Mr. Reid’s “nuclear option” also has enabled Mr. McConnell to win Senate confirmation to date of 183 federal district and appellate court judges for Mr. Trump.
Mr. McConnell rightly gloats that some Senate Democrats who voted to end the judicial filibuster now have “buyer’s remorse.”
Contrary to Mrs. Warren’s kneejerk desire to eliminate the legislative filibuster, there’s another reason she should be careful what she wishes for. Does she not realize that Obamacare and the Massachusetts lawmaker’s own brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Board — among other Obama-era “accomplishments” that Republicans would otherwise have abolished — are still on the books only because of the Senate filibuster?
The real reason Democrats would want to abolish the filibuster is there would then be nothing standing in the way of a President Warren and a Democrat-controlled Senate imposing their radical-left agenda: the mind-bogglingly costly Medicare for All; the radical Green New Deal; economy-crushing tax increases; uncontrolled open-borders immigration; the evisceration of the Second Amendment and the abolition of school choice; repeal of the Hyde Amendment, paving the way for federal funding of abortion; and the full LGBTQ wish list.
Now, six years later and no longer in the Senate, Mr. Reid not only hasn’t learned anything from the “nuclear option” backfiring, he’s doubling down on it. In an August op-ed column in The New York Times, he urged candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination to call on the Senate to abolish the filibuster.
When Mrs. Warren and the other Democratic presidential hopefuls gather in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14 for their final debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, they should be asked whether they support abolishing the Senate filibuster and thereby shredding the minority party’s rights.
Were they to say “yes,” it would prove that there’s nothing lowercase-“d” “democratic” about so-called “democratic (or Democratic) socialism.”
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