Tired of GOP Obstructionism, Dems Call For End to Filibusters
On Tuesday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren protested the Republicans’ block of yet another district court nominee and called for implementing the nuclear option, reforming the Senate filibuster rules. Warren is the latest in a series of frustrated Democratic senators to call on party leadership to push through reform that would no longer require 60 votes to defeat a filibuster.
Warren’s statement came after Republicans blocked another Obama nominee for the D.C. District Court of Appeals, Cornelia Pillard. Warren told Politico “So far [Republicans] have shut down the government, they have filibustered people [President Obama] has nominated to fill out his administration and they are now filibustering judges to block him from filling any of the vacancies with highly qualified people: We need to call out these filibusters for what they are: Naked attempts to nullify the results of the last election.”
Pillard was the third judicial nominee blocked by the Republicans in the last two weeks.
Indeed, Republicans have abused their filibuster power in a purely politically motivated vendetta against the president and the Democrats. When the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, the number of motions filed to end debate (as in, end the filibuster and bring a vote to the floor, known as a cloture motion) skyrocketed from 60 between 2005-2006 to 140 between 2007-2008. Cloture motions have been filed at least one hundred times in every Congressional session since Obama took office.
During the 1960’s, cloture was invoked fewer than 10 times per session. Under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, the number of cloture motions rarely exceeded 40.
More important is the number of bills that this congress has passed. As of September, this Congress has only passed 36 bills. Compare that with the 80th Congress, famously dubbed the “do-nothing” congress, which passed 906 bills. Even the previous session, the 112th Congress passed a record-low 561 bills. The 111th passed 1,101 bills.
Of course, any filibuster reform would work both ways. The Democrats may support the nuclear option while they hold the Senate majority but, as Republican Senator Chuck Grassley mockingly replied to the reform threat, “Go ahead. There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we’d love to put on the bench.”
(Image courtesy of Edward Kimmel)