There is a major fight brewing in the United States Senate at the moment. However, the battle that is about to take place has nothing to do with the impending Donald Trump impeachment trial. Instead, they are preparing to put their dukes up and brawl it out (figuratively, we hope) over the future of the filibuster.
Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin painted a very grim picture when he spoke to the good folks at NBC’s Meet The Press. He believes that the parties are not going to be able to share power unless the rules are changed significantly. His actual statement was very bizarre, too. “[W]hat Chuck Schumer put on the table was word for word the bipartisan agreement the last time we had a 50-50 Senate.
“And Senator McConnell came back and said, “No, I want absolute protection, the filibuster will not be touched.” Well, that’s a non-starter, because if we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day. So here’s the bottom line: if we are going to work in a bipartisan fashion, let’s pass the organizing resolution without the extra McConnell language.
Let’s get down to business, roll up our sleeves and pass this rescue package that deals with getting these vaccines out across America as quickly as possible, giving help to people who are unemployed, and giving businesses a helping hand. We want to get the economy back on its feet, we want to get kids back in school. Let’s do that as a priority on a bipartisan basis,” said Durbin,
The rules that were established back in 2001 did not mention this possibility because the polarization levels weren’t as high then. The “nuclear option” that has been floated in the past was enacted by the Republicans in 2013 and the Democrats back in 2017. Since the nuclear option was already put into place seven years ago, it’s funny to see Mitch McConnell be the one talking about a so-called return to normalcy.
Durbin seems to believe that the filibuster would be used in all instances but that would seem to be a bit over the top. If Durbin wants to help working-class Americans and small business owners, it is highly doubtful that the GOP would ever want to stand in his way. On the off chance that the filibuster comes into play, these discussions would probably take place if there was a new terrorism bill.
This type of legislation would lead to serious questions, as there are a number of Democrats who have expressed a desire to start making lists of Republicans who said to have pro-fascist leanings. Durbin still has a decent amount of work to do within his own party, as well. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin opposes the idea and so does “Independent” Senator Angus King.
In an announcement that will surprise absolutely no one, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is also not rushing to Durbin’s aid. In order for this plan to come to fruition, Durbin needs every Democrat and independent in the Senate on board. From there, Kamala Harris would need to serve as the tiebreaker vote.
It does not matter how Durbin feels at the end of the day, though. The filibuster is a crucial aspect of the Senate. There’s no reason to view the filibuster as some sort of troublesome business. The Senate currently views the filibuster as a tool that can be deployed to suit their own agenda and this is wrong.
With any luck, Pandora’s box will be closed before it is too late. Mitch McConnell is sure to stand in staunch opposition, which is going to help matters immensely. These are not rules that ever needed to be changed in the first place. If the Democrats are truly looking to establish a greater level of unity during the Biden years, they should start slowly backing away from this one right now. Nuclear options do not help anyone.