Wednesday, November 20, 2013

nuclear option against Senate filibusters

Senate Democrats are ramping up discussion of a possible change in Senate rules because of frustration over several recent nominations, where Republicans have blocked votes by threatening filibusters. This may be the typical posturing about the so-called nuclear option to change the rules by majority vote parliamentary rulings which several times in recent years had led to informal agreements to back away from the brink.

I still think it's good if the filibuster can be safe, legal, and rare -- and that changes should be made in the norms of the Senate, not the rules. I still worry about the legislative process if the filibuster tool is denied to a substantial minority that wants to fight a highly objectionable nominee, such as to the Supreme Court. I still wish that less drastic measures could be adopted that put more of the burden on filibusterers than on those who favor getting on with business.

But I sense that many more Democrats have become so frustrated, and distrustful of Republicans, that they would expect a GOP-controlled Senate to change the rules anyway, so they might as well make the move now and reap, at least for a while, the benefits.  The rest of the country is a prisoner of such short-range thinking, so I guess I shouldn't expect Senators to be any better. Too bad.

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