Video: White House refuses to rule out nuking filibuster rules for legislation too

posted at 4:41 pm on November 22, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Mediaite, which clipped this because of Jon Karl’s cheeky allusion to O dumping Hindenburg pilot Kathleen Sebelius near the end. That’s cute, but I’m more interested in what Josh Earnest (pinch-hitting for Jay Carney) says before that. Karl wants to know whether the White House opposes going full thermonuclear by ending the filibuster for Senate bills too. Remember, yesterday’s rule change supposedly applies only to confirmation votes for executive appointees, like cabinet members and lower-court judges (but not SCOTUS nominees). That gives Obama a free hand to pack federal appellate courts with hard-left liberals, but it leaves the filibuster intact for most other Senate business. How durable is that, though? Are Obama and Reid really committed to the line they’ve drawn or are we headed for a full nuking of what’s left of the filibuster, with 51 votes the new threshold for all Senate bills? Earnest’s reply: Talk to Reid. In other words, no, they’re not committed. All bets are off.

Wonkblog asked an expert on the subject what to expect going forward. Quote:

In a paper I’m writing with Sergio Campos, we lay out five illustrative options for how a majority could work its will. It’s not exhaustive, because there are dozens of ways you could do this. What the Democrats did today was our option four. You bring up something, have a cloture vote, and after you lose say, “It takes a simple majority to win this one.” We’re not the only people who had this idea but we did anticipate this possibility…

The question is whether a majority would stick together on the floor to further restrict obstruction. I would guess that some Democratic senators would not vote the same way on restricting filibusters against legislation. I can imagine, actually, a filibuster against a Supreme Court nominee being broken this way. But I’d note that, in the past, it hasn’t been necessary. Clarence Thomas was confirmed by a 52 to 48 vote, which means Democrats could have filibustered him but chose not to. If there was a similarly controversial nominee in the future, I would guess he or she might also pass with 50 votes.

What do they gain by nuking the rest of the filibuster at this point, though? I can understand doing it for a Supreme Court nominee, since that’s exclusively Senate business, but any legislation important enough to Democrats that they’d consider eliminating the 60-vote threshold to pass it would be killed by the Republican House. They gain nothing from it and lose potentially a lot insofar as they’d be responsible for removing the taboo against simple majorities with the GOP poised to retake the Senate. It’s in Democrats’ interest to keep that taboo in place unless/until they have control of Congress and the White House again. Otherwise, they risk having a Republican elected president in 2016 and no norms or procedures in place to restrain the GOP from ramming its agenda through. “Who cares?” our three lefty readers will say to that. “Republicans will probably nuke the rest of the filibuster themselves if they regain total control of government, regardless of what Democrats do.” Maybe, but the media would make the GOP pay a way steeper price politically for changing the rules than Democrats paid yesterday (namely, nothing) — especially if they were changed to facilitate a momentous vote, like repealing ObamaCare. Democrats should want the taboo against removing the filibuster for legislation in place if only for that reason. If they nuke the rest of it now, the GOP can pass repeal with 51 votes in a few years and say, quite correctly, that they’re only following the rules made by Obama and Harry Reid. Does Earnest not understand that? Or has Democratic arrogance about Hillary’s supposed inevitability reached the point where they can’t imagine the GOP taking over the federal government until 2025 at the earliest?


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Maybe McConnell will be blindsided by this one, too. Even after they’ve pretty announced they want to do it.

We’re in such good hands.

rrpjr on November 23, 2013 at 3:50 PM

If the rats lose the senate in 14, they’ll change the rules back b4 the GOP assumes the majority, and then raise Hell w the msm if the GOP retaliates

matthew8787 on November 23, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Of course. The script writes itself.

When you look at the cow-faced idiots and cowards among the GOP, you almost can’t blame the democrats. They’re just doing what they can get away with. Again. And again. And again. And again.

rrpjr on November 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM

This feels like the beginning of the Empire.

Only this time, no thunderous applause.

StubbleSpark on November 23, 2013 at 4:37 PM

What do Democrats gain by it?

Simple: it’s a short-term distraction from ObamaCare. They need anything they can throw at the television to change the subject.

Obama is taking heavy poll damage every day because of the bad news, and while he isn’t running for anything again, his approval ratings will affect the results in the midterms. The lower he sinks, the worse for Democrats.

So they are desperate to change the subject, even for a day or two, in the hope that eventually something will look better. The dirty little secret about Presidential job approval is that once it sinks below a certain level, it isn’t coming back, PERIOD.

Only Clinton has recovered enough from low numbers to help his party in midterms, but he had the backlash from impeachment lifting him.

Adjoran on November 23, 2013 at 6:08 PM

it’s a short-term distraction from ObamaCare. They need anything they can throw at the television to change the subject.

Obama is taking heavy poll damage every day because of the bad news, and while he isn’t running for anything again, his approval ratings will affect the results in the midterms. The lower he sinks, the worse for Democrats.

So they are desperate to change the subject, even for a day or two, in the hope that eventually something will look better. The dirty little secret about Presidential job approval is that once it sinks below a certain level, it isn’t coming back, PERIOD.

Adjoran on November 23, 2013 at 6:08 PM

The thing is: it’s not going to work this time because the effects of Obamacare’s rollout are immediate and personal in that people are actually losing their insurance policies as we speak. It’s utterly tangible, so changing the subject actually makes them look worse for trying to worm away from something that is actively affecting many voters. Changing the subject when the PR millstone is merely bad optics or political in nature. He’s having to deal with both problems, now.

Egging a couple of houses will make everyone frown disapprovingly until a nice squirrel can be found to point at instead, but if he eggs enough houses that everyone knows someone whose house has been egged and now fears for their own house, then people aren’t going to let him off the hook. Really, we should be hoping that he finds the kind of problem that would make people forget the Obamacare rollout, because it would likely be EVER WORSE than the Obamacare rollout.

mintycrys on November 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

The only thing that makes total sense to me is Democrats have so corrupted the voting process to such an extent that it ensures no Republican will gain the WH in the foreseeable future.

SoldiersMom on November 23, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Even Democrats have to wonder if they have any role at all in the House or the Senate, since Reid wants to hand the gavel to the president.

Politicians love to be on the winning side, but Obama is not winning now. Every day the policy failures pile up on the debris of the day prior. This can’t go on too much longer.

This undemocratic action further underlines the illegitimacy of the Obamacare ™ legislation, the crowning emblem of the Obama presidency – that had to be passed by partisan subterfuge, not regular order.

virgo on November 24, 2013 at 3:43 AM

The only thing that makes total sense to me is Democrats have so corrupted the voting process to such an extent that it ensures no Republican will gain the WH in the foreseeable future.

SoldiersMom on November 23, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Exactly right. Anyone who trust results from computerized voting is a damn fool. We need to go back to paper ballots. They can be scanned to give preliminary results then hand counted to verify the results. Yes there is still the possibility of corruption, but less so than from computers that can be programmed to give any result the programmer desires.

bgibbs1000 on November 24, 2013 at 9:17 AM

If the rats lose the senate in 14, they’ll change the rules back b4 the GOP assumes the majority, and then raise Hell w the msm if the GOP retaliates

matthew8787 on November 23, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Yup. In the 2014 lame duck session that will be the last vote in the Senate. If the Republicans dared change it back in 2015 the media would blanket the air waves with headlines of an unprecedented power grab by Republicans.

Wigglesworth on November 24, 2013 at 8:13 PM

The idiots in the senate should know if they considered this, the house would shoot down everything for the next 3 years of the liar in chief’s “want list”.

The mid-terms will take out a large majority of the Dems who voted for his Obamacare mess we are currently in. Did not need or want this. His “legacy” will be the president who was a fraud and biggest secretive president in our history.

Grand juries will be busy in 2017.

Amazingoly on November 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Obama is setting things up so as to rule by exec fiat and ram his megalomaniacal dream down our throats, bypassing Congress, in his last two years, crippling this country and future generations for as far out as the eye can see… and sabotaging the American government in the process.

I’m thinking we have no choice now but to regain the Senate next year and hold the House, then remove him from office by impeachment.

Before they took the nuclear option, this may have been avoidable. But now it’s not. The Republic hangs in the balance.

petefrt on November 24, 2013 at 8:32 PM

They’re saying Dingy (I’m not a pedophile)Harry Reid did this to pack the courts. There’s a very simple solution. When we get control, have Congress dissolve the courts Barry packs. All lower courts are created and funded by Congress. They can get rid of them at will. Of course that requires a Congress with the guts to do that.

Iblis on November 24, 2013 at 11:30 PM

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