President Joe Biden’s latest attempt to modify Senate filibuster rules is abysmal and politically naive, and it demonstrates his shortsightedness and failing political acumen.
A Senate filibuster can be described as a procedural tool used by opponents to a bill to prolong debate and indefinitely hold the Senate floor. This would mean that the bill could not be brought up for a vote at any time until the filibuster ends.
It is currently possible to end a filibuster in the Senate by obtaining the support of three-fifths of all senators—60 senators out of 100. This is a rule that has been in force for more than 100 year. Despite this long-standing rule, Democrats want to change the rules to their advantage by amending filibuster rules so that 50 senators are required to end it. What’s worse, the proposed change would supposedly only apply to two pieces of legislation.
This attempt to rewrite rules in the short-term will in fact backfire in the longer term. A prominent example occurred when Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” to require just a simple majority vote to end the filibuster on judicial candidates other than for the Supreme Court in 2013.
This was a turning point in politics. Republicans were furious at the Democrats’ actions and used the nuclear option to confirm Supreme Court nominees in 2017 with a simple majority. While Democrats protested during the three Supreme Court nominations that former President Donald Trump was able secure, it was precisely because their previous actions that the Republicans felt justified using the nuclear alternative in 2017.
And now we’re back where we began. Biden and several Democratic senators once again advocate for another, short-term nuclear option to meet their short term objectives. This is a clear indication of their shortsighted mentality.
This kind of action has many risks. It creates political games of tit for tact, which will eventually lead to both sides getting the short end. If the Democrats can amend the filibuster for two bills, then what is stopping the Republicans from doing so when they are able? Will Democrats be furious if Republicans do the same thing? Probably.
The question is still, “Why now?” It’s hard to understand why the Democrats would shift their focus from a major infrastructure package that they considered a “must pass” to modifying an inner-chamber rule that most people aren’t even aware of.
It is unusual that such a significant change in Senate rules would be used for a bill that the average American isn’t immediately concerned about. Currently, Americans are confronted with a slew of issues that have a direct impact on their daily lives, including increased difficulty in putting food on the table as a result of high inflation, difficulty in purchasing essential items due to empty grocery stores as a result of supply chain issues, and increased difficulty in filling their cars with gas without burning through their paychecks as a result of soaring gas prices due to the Biden administration’s weak foreign-policy stances.
Despite the fact that the average American is not aware of the filibuster issue or the voting rights issue it is evident that Democrats are trying to use a similar strategy. Democrats seem to use this strategy to wrap up their most contentious legislation. This allows them to show that the issue they are dealing with is connected to another.
Democrats can now talk to their supporters about how using a temporary nuclear option on the filibuster that has absolutely nothing to do in voting rights is critical to the preservation voting rights for all citizens. These arguments will continue to be intertwined for the moment.
Oddly enough, Biden was the only voice of reason when his party tried to press him on the campaign road regarding the filibuster issue. He is now folding like a lawn chair, and it seems that he has no good reason to do so. Is there any reason he would do this? He doesn’t have the votes to begin with, so what is he hoping to gain from this political maneuver?
The reason for Biden’s shift in position on the filibuster is unclear at this point. One thing is certain: He and his party will not benefit from this poorly thought-out and unneeded decision. If this goal is achieved, it will invariably backfire, as these kinds of rash and shortsighted decisions always do.
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