SEN. GRASSLEY: Democratic Hypocrisy Could Ruin Bipartisanship in the Senate

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When Democrats last had the majority and proposed blowing up the Senate, I gave a series of speeches explaining how the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, intended for the Senate to be a deliberative body, a break on the hot passions of the House.

 

I repeated my deeply held opposition to gutting the Senate even when my party took control of all three branches, and it would have been politically expedient in the short run.

 

President Trump and many in my party’s grassroots wanted to overcome Democrats’ use of the cloture rule to block our agenda, but I spoke out strongly against it.

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In 2017, over half of current Democrat senators signed a letter calling for preservation of the current rules for considering legislation despite the use of the nuclear option for nominees.

 

Remember, the nuclear option is a tactic Democrats used to break the rules to change the rules on cloture for nominations.

 

I agree with President Biden’s position in 2005. Reflecting an understanding of the role of the Senate as envisioned by James Madison, then-Senator Biden said, “That’s the reason we have the rule! So when one party controls all levers of government, one man or woman can stand on the floor of the Senate and resist the passions of the moment.”

 

Even Senator Schumer said at that time gutting the cloture rule would be a “doomsday for democracy.”

 

Now Senator Schumer wants that doomsday.

 

Senator Durbin hit the nail on the head as recently as 2018 saying it “would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers.” I agreed then and I agree now.

 

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and Democrats have changed their position, many not for the first time.

 

Senator Durbin has now joined the crusade of his Democrat predecessor, Stephen Douglas of Illinois.

 

Douglas is more famous for debating Abraham Lincoln on the issue of slavery, but Douglas also proposed a Senate rule change allowing a narrow majority to force a final vote on bills.

 

Hypocrisy is not rare in politics, but the fact that Democrat leaders switch principles on such a consequential matter whenever Senate control flips is particularly glaring.

 

The Party of Jim Crow, which made liberal use of the so called “filibuster” just over a year ago to block Republicans’ agenda, are now saying, falsely, it is a relic of Jim Crow.

 

I do not see how they can look voters in the eye with no sign of embarrassment.

 

I do not understand why the media isn’t roasting them for this hypocritical power grab.

 

I would also like to address a misconception.

 

The cloture motion requires 60 votes to bring consideration of legislation to finality. Just because it can be used to block legislation, does not mean it always equals a filibuster.

 

Cloture cuts off not just debate, but amendments. Voting for cloture is saying that the Senate has voted on enough amendments.

 

Senators who have amendments important to their states they still want to offer must vote against cloture to preserve their right.

 

Debate and amendments are a hallmark of democracy, not an obstacle to be swept aside in pursuit of a short-term partisan agenda.

 

When Democrats last controlled the Senate with 60 votes and thereafter, amendment votes became rare. Even rank and file Democrats lost opportunities to represent their states.

 

Also, many people confuse debate over the filibuster with talking nonstop to delay.

 

That’s a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster. It has nothing to do with cloture.

 

People who talk about returning to the so-called “talking filibuster” are confusing two different Senate rules, both called a filibuster.

 

Senators have never had to talk until they dropped to preserve their right to amend bills.

 

So, the “talking filibuster” rhetoric is nonsense.

 

Democrats have convinced themselves, or at least their activist base, falsely, that our democracy is in crisis. So it is absurd to say only one party, unilateral governance can save democracy.

 

But, once an exception is made to the right of all senators to debate and amend legislation, there will be no going back.

Author: Press Release

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