When Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democrats teamed up three years ago to nuke the filibuster on presidential appointments, Republicans warned them they’d live to regret it. Now that day has arrived, and Chris Coons tells CNN’s Kate Bolduan he does regret it — mainly because, as Republicans tried to tell Democrats, they have no way of stopping a Republican president from appointing “extreme” nominees to key positions. Coons, who is trying to block Jeff Sessions’ nomination as Attorney General, says that Republicans need to help him and other Democrats out now.
Bolduan isn’t terribly impressed with this line of thinking, needless to say (via the Free Beacon):
BOLDUAN: But Senator, also a rules change the Democrats put in place could also come back to bite you. I mean, I don’t get into the weeds, but Democrats made it much easier than a simple majority can push through presidential nominees. Democrats did it for themselves and now Republicans can do it as well.
COONS: That’s exactly right. The filibuster no longer acts as emergency brake on the nomination —
BOLDUAN: So do you regret that?
COONS: I do regret that. I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency brake, to have in our system to slow down the confirmation of extreme nominees. We’re instead going to have to depend on the American people, on thorough hearings and/or persuading a number of Republicans in those cases where President-elect Trump might nominate someone, who is just too extreme to the American people. I’ll remind you that Secretary Clinton won the popular vote and that Democrat — Senate candidates won more votes. So I don’t think Trump has an overwhelming mandate. I do think Republicans are conscious of that.
Well, that an a five-dollar bill will get you a tall mocha latté at your local Starbucks, pal. The “Democratic Senate candidates got more votes” would carry some weight if it weren’t for the fact that the Senate exists precisely to balance out massive population differences between larger and smaller states. Besides, like Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead, it’s caused by a huge partisan disparity in votes in California — which had a Senate race with two Democrats facing off against each other, thanks to the state’s open primary-runoff system. It seems doubtful at best that Republican Senators feel bound by what Californians think of them, or that it matters much to the rest of the country, either.
But Coons wins the gold medal for chutzpah for his appeal to Republicans to pull Democratic chestnuts out of the fire they set to burn the GOP on Obama’s appellate-court appointments. Senate Democrats got what they wanted — Obama stacked the bench over the next year until Republicans took back the majority in the 2014 midterms. Now that Democrats got what they wanted by denying Republicans the traditional protection for Senate minorities, Coons wants Republicans to act on their behalf in order to give them a fake filibuster.
Hope you enjoy the Senate majority you helped build in single-party governance, Mr. Coons. You deserve it. The only thing Republicans owe in this scenario is at least a moment’s thought before killing what’s left of the legislative filibuster for their own partisan purposes. What goes around, comes around.