Senate Republicans debate: Should we reinstate the filibuster for presidential nominees?

posted at 8:01 pm on December 10, 2014 by Allahpundit

Jazz had an item about this yesterday but I frankly can’t believe the subject is still being debated today. Why would you revert to the 60-vote threshold for cabinet and (lower-court) judicial nominees when Democrats have already shown they won’t abide by it when they have a majority?

The filibuster is a prisoners’ dilemma and they defected, so now the strategy of the game changes going forward. What am I missing here?

Senate Republicans huddled with all of their new members for the first time since Bill Cassidy’s Saturday win in Louisiana — but emerged from a Tuesday meeting fractured over what to do with the Senate’s filibuster rules for presidential nominees…

“I saw senior members arguing against themselves,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) of the meeting. He favors moving the voting threshold back to 60 votes — but he may be outnumbered.

While no clear consensus emerged inside the Senate’s Strom Thurmond Room, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said the “prevailing view” was to keep things as is

GOP leadership and their allies sketched out a potential process that would take any decision on the filibuster – whether to keep it at 51 votes or revert to the initial 60-vote threshold – and put it through the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and ultimately a floor vote. Or Republicans could try to chart a third path, perhaps to change the rules only for some nominees.

There are lots of reasons why Republicans might want to stick with 51 votes for confirmation now that Reid has restored that rule. Most obviously, if the GOP holds the Senate in 2016 and a Republican wins the White House, it makes confirming conservative nominees much easier. Remember, it’s a near-lock given the Senate map two years from now that Democrats will increase their share of the chamber. At best, the GOP’s probably looking at a reduced 51- or 52-seat majority in 2017. If you bring back the filibuster rule now, you’re guaranteeing that the Democratic minority will be able to block any nominee they want. On the flip side, in a worst-case scenario where Democrats win the White House and regain the Senate majority, obviously they’ll restore the 51-vote threshold no matter what Republicans do now to make confirmation of President Hillary’s nominees easier. That’s the significance of Reid having already gone nuclear: Having done it once, there’s every reason to believe he’ll do it again. As Ted Cruz notes, in practice this would amount to two different rules for the two parties — a 60-vote threshold whenever the GOP controls the chamber, which helps the Democratic minority, and a 51-vote threshold whenever Democrats control the chamber, which helps the Democratic majority.

The potential drawback in sticking with the 51-vote rule is that, in theory, it makes it slightly easier for Obama to get his nominees through over the next two years. Imagine, for instance, that Loretta Lynch has the support of 55 senators but draws strong opposition from 45 Republicans. Those 45 Republican holdouts lose if the caucus sticks with Reid’s rule and they win if they restore the 60-vote threshold. But that’s a minor problem when you control the majority: McConnell, as majority leader, could always refuse to bring the nomination to the floor and the Senate committee responsible for vetting the nominee (which will have a Republican majority) could always vote her down before the full Senate votes. From now on, if you want to stop an Obama appointee from being confirmed, you simply focus your political pressure on McConnell or on the relevant committee instead of on the Republican caucus at large.

The argument for bringing back 60 votes in spite of all that is … unclear, actually. The main proponent seems to be John McCain, who fears that the GOP would look hypocritical or dishonorable, etc, if they stuck with Reid’s rule now after lambasting him for reverting to the 51-vote threshold last year. But that’s silly: As Ed Whelan notes, in the course of U.S. history, presidential nominees have typically enjoyed confirmation by simple majority. Only in the last ten years has filibustering nominees become normalized. McCain’s hypocrisy point is fair enough, but so what? Hypocrisy is par for the course with the filibuster; liberals who spent six years screeching about obstructionism from the “party of no” in the Senate will rediscover the filibuster as a wise, tempering procedural move if Republicans control the government in 2017. McCain has an … interesting set of values if he’s prepared to tolerate a “different rules for the two parties” approach in perpetuity simply to avoid being called a hypocrite. In fact, I think lefty Ed Kilgore is right about McCain’s deeper motive here: A Senate with a 60-vote threshold will leave centrists like Maverick with much more power over nominees than one with a 51-vote threshold will. Remember the “Gang of 14”? With the filibuster intact, you’re likely to see something like that again — McCain, Graham, Susan Collins, Mark Kirk, maybe Lisa Murkowski all making a deal with a similar number of centrist Dems to vote together on certain nominees, thus guaranteeing that they either meet or fall short of 60 votes. (This assumes that McConnell would agree to bring the nominations to the floor, of course.) With a simple majority rule, centrists become less important. McCain’s just protecting his own turf here.

It’s nutty that they’re even thinking about bringing back the old rule, but it’s the GOP so there you go. One further note via Politico: Supposedly, Republicans are considering allowing a floor vote in the Senate on what the new rule should be — and unlike Reid’s vote to nuke the filibuster, which was done by simple majority, they’ll insist on a supermajority of 67 votes to enact the new rule. How will that shake out? Presumably most Democrats will vote for a 51-vote threshold for presidential nominees, partly because they and Reid set that rule in the first place and partly because reinstating the filibuster for Obama’s nominees will likely benefit tea partiers more than anyone else. (Cruz, Rand Paul, and most of the rest of the GOP caucus, could in theory form a 41-vote bloc that stops a nominee that even McConnell approves of.) But I dunno — if Republicans have changed on this subject overnight, maybe Democrats will too. I can see why Senate liberals might like the idea of bringing the filibuster back, just in case O nominates someone who’s not far enough left for them. Could be an interesting vote on the new rule.


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Comments

It’s done. No going back now, as you say, the democrats would simply strip it back again as soon as they could.

JusDreamin on December 10, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Though now that I think about it, why not debate it a bit, and rub it in their noses. The screwed the pooch on this one, no harm in reminding them.

JusDreamin on December 10, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Once again the GOP is showing they are the stupid party.

cat_owner on December 10, 2014 at 8:05 PM

whatever McPain wants, do the opposite

rik on December 10, 2014 at 8:08 PM

The silence here is deafening. This is like the mainstream media.

Magicjava on December 10, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I heard there was a Cromnibus bill up for a vote as early as tomorrow….

d1carter on December 10, 2014 at 8:10 PM

The gop pisses on the Conservatives that elected them…..once again.

Meanwhile, the BIG GOV LOVING republican leadership grows Obamacare and Amnesty…..and we wonder about the filibuster?

In case you haven’t noticed the U.S. is under a direct attack from the Saudi Arabians (friends of the Bushes and Clintons at a minimum) as they attempt to destroy the growing U.S. oil and natural gas industry (and energy independence).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fracking-is-turning-the-us-into-a-bigger-oil-producer-than-saudi-arabia-9185133.html

And has ANYONE in Congress or the White House acknowledged what a threat this is to our national security?

PappyD61 on December 10, 2014 at 8:11 PM

I heard there was a Cromnibus bill up for a vote as early as tomorrow….

d1carter on December 10, 2014 at 8:10 PM

It fully funds Obamacare, does nothing to stop Amnesty, gives Federal workers a pay raise, and allows the middle class pension plans of current retirees to be “severely cut”.

Magicjava on December 10, 2014 at 8:12 PM

………but what are oil prices in free fall and the Saudi’s going to do to this boom?

Hector Gallegos sits in the cab of his pick-up enjoying a few hours of calm. A day earlier, workers finished carting off the huge rig that had drilled three new wells beneath this small patch of south Texas farmland and he’s now getting ready to prime them for production. He reckons that about three weeks from now each will be producing 1,000 to 2,000 barrels a day. “That’s money!” he exclaims with a broad smile.

It’s also power, and not in the combustion sense. Thanks to the success of engineers like Mr Gallegos in pushing the frontiers of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to access reserves of oil trapped in shale formations, notably here in Texas and North Dakota, America is poised to displace Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer. With that could come a hobbling of Opec and unforeseen shifts in US foreign policy.

So rapid has been the change in its energy fortunes that even some experts, as well as policy-makers in Washington, are struggling to keep up. Nor are we just talking oil. So much natural gas is being released by the shale also that for now outlandish quantities of it are simply being burned off into the atmosphere.

Even predicting future oil output isn’t the precise science you’d expect. “We keep raising our forecasts, and we keep underestimating production,” Lejla Alic, an analyst with the International Energy Agency noted recently. Last year US production reached 7.4 million barrels a day, an increase over 2012 of 15.3 per cent. A jump that large hasn’t been seen since 1951. This year the US should produce 8.3 million barrels a day.

PappyD61 on December 10, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Harry changed it to serve the Dems, so lets leave as is for some “payback” medicine for doing this. Time for some hard ball.

Amazingoly on December 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM

You can’t uncross the Rubicon.

Stoic Patriot on December 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM

……and this is delicious.

As vivid as the gas flares in the Texas sky at night, however, is America’s new-found love affair with fracking. Environmentalists warn loudly of water contamination disasters and some home owners speak of being rattled by man-made earthquakes, but there is no giving it up now.

It’s a whole different world to 2008, when US oil production was at a historical low and Sarah Palin was drawing liberal ire declaring that “Drill, Baby Drill!” was the answer to all of America’s problems. Suddenly she seems to have been right.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iolgiIvfV-0

PappyD61 on December 10, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Harry Reid is a spineless, partisan piece of shit. There, I said it. If the GOP had any fortitude whatsoever, they’d rub Harry’s decrepit ass in the simple majority that he fought for, and dare the old dinosaur to whine about it in 2016/2017 (if he’s still a Senator by then, hopefully not).

Aizen on December 10, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Despite what the GOPe would have you believe, this is not business as usual.

We’re in a fight for the existence of the republic.

McCain’s unilateral disarmament is the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Younggod on December 10, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Um, the D’s are retaking the Senate in 2016. No question.

Hugely unfavorable map for the GOP, plus presidential level turnout means their time in charge is limited.

TylerMichaels on December 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Magicjava on December 10, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Let’s just wait until it passes to see what’s in it…..

d1carter on December 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM

NO. DAMMIT.NO.

ladyingray on December 10, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Crap media like HA avoids a trillion dollar bill getting rammed through…

.and I’m sure the Senate will give the Dems back whatever they want.

Keep Boehner and McConell..more of the same – enjoy.

celt on December 10, 2014 at 8:21 PM

And not a mention one over the past few weeks about slipping language into the “cromnibus” bill to even FURTHER loosen campaign big money restrictions.

Every day our voice and semblance of control over our electoral process slips further and further away.

Taken from us and put into the hands of folks we can’t compete with, sounds like a bang up smart idea. Let’s get right on that!

America, for sale to highest bidder.

And then you wonder, whine, b***h, and moan whenever those in Washington completely ignore you wants, will, interests, and desires for the same of those who get them there in the first place.

So effing stupid that it’s DANGEROUS.

Genuine on December 10, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Crap media like HA avoids a trillion dollar bill getting rammed through…

.and I’m sure the Senate will give the Dems back whatever they want.

Keep Boehner and McConell..more of the same – enjoy.

celt on December 10, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Yeah. This is pathetic.

Hot Air, please delete my account. I do not want to be associated with your names. You disgust me.

Magicjava on December 10, 2014 at 8:23 PM

I would think the D plan is to flip the rules back on their last day in power, then sit back while the biased media chants to the LoFo’s about now the evil R’s are modifying the rules in their favor. The R’s will debate and decide it’s not ‘statesman like’ and fail to revert to the D’s blatant power grab while Harry Reid sprouts his biggest Trouser Schnauzer in 6 years and laughs like hell.

Isn’t that what’s going to happen?

Tard on December 10, 2014 at 8:25 PM

No. Just NO.

ladyingray on December 10, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Someone is leaving the republican party. Either them or me.

Probably be me.

wolly4321 on December 10, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Must not keep as it makes it harder for RINOS to help Obama get his way. Moves the goalposts from 7 to 17 DIABOs to give Obama the web. Also makes the republicans look like they give a crap about the rule of law.

Now if a republican gets to be president and we still have the Senate, back to the Reid Rule. Fascist democrats are all about precedence. Hell maybe go to 51 for all the legislation.

jukin3 on December 10, 2014 at 8:40 PM

My God how dumb can the GOP be? Why is this even a discussion?

Jack_Burton on December 10, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Harry Reid is a spineless, partisan piece of shit. There, I said it. If the GOP had any fortitude whatsoever, they’d rub Harry’s decrepit ass in the simple majority that he fought for, and dare the old dinosaur to whine about it in 2016/2017 (if he’s still a Senator by then, hopefully not).

Aizen on December 10, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Unlike our bipartisan Boner who is ready to work with the Democrats every chance he gets.

Walter L. Newton on December 10, 2014 at 8:42 PM

It’s been said better before me, but here goes….NNNOOOOOOO!!!!!!

SMACKRUNNER on December 10, 2014 at 8:46 PM

In the name of bipartisanship and for the children they should confer with the democrats to see what they think they should do the go ahead and do it. No difficult choice there.

Jackson on December 10, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Um, the D’s are retaking the Senate in 2016. No question.

Hugely unfavorable map for the GOP, plus presidential level turnout means their time in charge is limited.

TylerMichaels on December 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Actually, there probably will not be a Republican Party by 2016, at least not as a national force.

It fully funds Obamacare, does nothing to stop Amnesty, gives Federal workers a pay raise, and allows the middle class pension plans of current retirees to be “severely cut”.

Magicjava on December 10, 2014 at 8:12 PM

It is even worse. While they are saying that they are only funding Homeland Security till March, so that they can pretend for a while that they will fight then; the money for the actual implementation of the Amnesty has been put into the budgets of other Executive Departments, primarily HHS. See the headline running all day today at DRUDGE, and the Washington Post article it links to where the WP is gleeful.

All the election did is give Mitch McConnell a bigger office.

Subotai Bahadur on December 10, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Take the “rule” and shove it up Harry Reid’s fat ass every chance you get!

GarandFan on December 10, 2014 at 9:21 PM

F*cking Pu$$ies.

Resist We Much on December 10, 2014 at 9:22 PM

It is a problem when reasonable and honorable people have to deal with people who might be reasonable and honorable, but have demonstrated an unscrupulous side where they don’t honor the understandings that should govern the behavior of both sides, particularly when it benefits them to not honor it.

If the side that kept to the understanding does not punish the side that did not, then the behavior will continue. Eventually the side that stuck by the understanding could conclude that the other side will NEVER stick to the understanding and then should behave accordingly.

Once the trust is broken, regaining it is never an easy task.

Russ808 on December 10, 2014 at 9:43 PM

You see yet?

The teams just switch sides. The clock never stops. And the game just keeps on going.

And that’s all it is anymore. A “game”. Theater for those unable to think for themselves.

Genuine on December 10, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Members of the republican base that thought this election would change anything deserve everything they get from the gop leadership. Did you really think that the repubics would change just because they won? When are you going to wake up to the fact that they despise the base. Wasn’t Mississippi proof enough or McConnell and Boehner flat out saying what they thought of conservatives and TPers. I will bet the vast majority of the base will stay in the republican party and and the same disappointment will be expressed in blogs and by Rush and Levin and every other conservative pundit ad nauseum. But how about a mass exodus from the republican party by the tens of thousands. You can always get back in for a primary if need be but I’d love to see that movement catch on to finally start playing hard ball with these idiots. I won’t hold my breath.

Jackson on December 10, 2014 at 9:49 PM

Unlike our bipartisan Boner who is ready to work with the Democrats every chance he gets.

Walter L. Newton on December 10, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Honestly, Boehner and his boys might as well switch parties and give back the majority to the Democrat Party. Because why bother have Republicans controlling the House or Congress at all if they’re only around to receive the blame?

There are times when I really loathe Boehner and McConnell more than Obama and the Democrats.

Aizen on December 10, 2014 at 10:05 PM

This is equivalent to fighting an 8th century enemy with 21st century rules. The Ds play dirty and we want to play nice. Stupidity reigns.

Carnac on December 10, 2014 at 10:29 PM

Reinstate the Filibuster as it was. Anything that gums up the works in DC is a good thing. If I had my way everything in both the House and the Senate would be prey for a Filibuster.

Dawnsblood on December 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

whatever McPain wants, do the opposite

rik on December 10, 2014 at 8:08 PM

McCain wants you to not send me your paycheck.

V7_Sport on December 10, 2014 at 11:54 PM

Idiots.

Oxymoron on December 10, 2014 at 11:57 PM

Idiots

cmsinaz on December 11, 2014 at 5:14 AM

No! The left took this road and they must suffer the results of their actions. This is an excellent opportunity to stop the flow of incompetent leftists into Obama’s regime, which is already in shambles.

rplat on December 11, 2014 at 7:14 AM

F*cking Pu$$ies.

Resist We Much on December 10, 2014 at 9:22 PM

P*cking Fu$$ies too.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on December 11, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Look. Republicans want democrats to have the power to block things. That way, they have an easy out for not appointing conservatives, not pushing conservative policy, not enacting spending cuts or reducing the size of gov’t.

It’s in the actions people. Their words are meaningless. The GOP is a center-left party. It is not conservative and it hates conservatives.

If they do this – and it doesn’t open up your eyes as to the true nature of the GOP, nothing ever will. They can pass amnesty, increase spending, increase the size of gov’t, double-down by “fixing” Obamacare, and alleged conservatives will still blindly support the GOP – as they always have.

Monkeytoe on December 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

You can reinstate the filibuster, but ONLY if you prosecute Harry Reid for Conduct Unbecoming a Senator or some such. If you put the rule back in, you must EJECT Harry Reid.

Medbob on December 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Let’s talk about what Harry Reid wants. For the next two years, Harry wants us to maintain the status quo. If the Dems take the Senate in ’16, Harry will restore the filibuster or leave it off, depending on the party of the new president. There will be no pain for Harry, regardless of the decision.

If Republicans take the Senate and the White House in 2016, Harry will have to take his medicine. If we take the Senate but not the WH, then Harry will raise unholy hell if we try to restore the filibuster, and will exact his pound of flesh.

If we restore the filibuster, and then win the WH and Senate, it may be politically difficult to revoke it again in ’16.

Because we can block nominees without the filibuster as long as we are in the majority in the Senate, I have changed my position to being in favor of keeping the status quo. The benefit outweighs the risk, in my opinion.

Immolate on December 11, 2014 at 10:21 AM

NO
NO
NO
Leave the rules as Harry has changed them to and let him now live under them from the minority side of the equation.

nikophil on December 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Screw McCain and all of the other Democrats. Leave it be. The Democrats changed it to 51. Let them change it back the next time they are in power if they want.

Theophile on December 11, 2014 at 7:36 PM