Brian Darling

Reid wants to dump the filibuster so he can have more power.  If he had his way, Republicans would merely have the right to vote, with no other substantive right to participate in the legislative process. You might as well move the minority party’s seats up to the Senate gallery.

Liberal Senators held a far different view back in 2005.  Then, Sen. Barack Obama opposed the idea of getting rid of the filibuster.  It would have “changed the character of the Senate forever,” he said, and not for the better.

And then-Minority Leader Harry Reid agreed whole-heartedly.  “The right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls Congress and the White House.  In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government,” he observed. 

And since Reid has been Majority Leader, he has left Republicans with only two options—either vote for the bills he brings to the floor, or filibuster them.  He does this by using an obscure parliamentary tool—called “filling the amendment tree”—to block Republican opportunities to offer amendments on bills.  Reid has used this trick to bar GOP amendments on over 50 bills since becoming Majority Leader.  He has employed this marginalizing tactic more times than all of his predecessors combined.

Today, the Tea Party is angry because they don’t see allies in Congress fighting all that hard.  They don’t understand why Republicans aren’t fighting harder against ideas like the Export-Import Bank.  They want to see some fire in the belly. 

In the Senate, that can boil down to a simple motto:  Filibuster Harry Reid.


Brian Darling

Brian Darling is a Senior Fellow in Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling