If there’s one constant in Washington DC, it’s that the party who controls the Senate hates the filibuster while the party out of power loves it. These positions change, of course, based on who is in charge.
Right now, since Democrats are in charge and feeling their oats after a slight expansion in their majority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is vowing to gut the filibuster:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he will try to push through a change to Senate rules that would limit the GOP’s ability to filibuster bills.
Speaking in the wake of Tuesday’s election, which boosted Senate Democrats’ numbers slightly, Mr. Reid said he won’t end filibusters altogether but that the rules need to change so that the minority party cannot use the legislative blocking tool as often.
“I think that the rules have been abused and that we’re going to work to change them,” he told reporters. “Were not going to do away with the filibuster but we’re going to make the Senate a more meaningful place.”
Republicans, who have 47 of the chamber’s 100 seats in this current Congress, have repeatedly used that strong minority to block parts of President Obama’s agenda on everything from added stimulus spending to his judicial picks.
Of course, back in 2005 Reid felt much differently about the filibuster. “It encourages moderation and consensus,” he said in a floor speech. “It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail.”
I agree with the 2005 version of Reid’s position on the filibuster. I’m not one who buys into the idea that “more is better” when it comes to legislation. The Senate participates in making laws that impact the entire nation. One-size-fits-all policies which impact a nation as large and diverse as America is, both geographically and socially, should only be made with broad national consensus.
One party shoving policy down the throats of another party is a good way to breed faction and resentment among the populace. If a law can’t get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate then perhaps it ought not be law.
Anyway, Heidi Heitkamp was one of nine liberal Senate candidates in 2012 to pledge support for reforming the filibuster if elected. Expect Heitkamp to join Reid (whose PAC spent millions getting Heitkamp elected) in these efforts to undermine the democratic process in Washington DC.