Heh: Dem Senator Suddenly Regrets the 'Reid Rule' on Filibusters

Guy Benson
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Posted: Nov 30, 2016 1:15 PM
Heh: Dem Senator Suddenly Regrets the 'Reid Rule' on Filibusters

Via Ed Morrissey, an amusing and hopelessly-belated mea culpa from one of the Senate's more liberal Democrats who all of a sudden regrets his participation in Harry Reid's 2013 partial nuke of the filibuster. Oh, it seemed like such a good idea at the time; those awful obstructionist Republicans weren't giving President Obama everything he wanted, so something had to be done. Reid used a strong-arm move to change the Senate rules with a bare majority vote, eliminating the minority's right to filibuster presidential nominations. Obama was the short-term beneficiary of the Reid Rule, installing his people as he saw fit, in both the executive branch and the federal judiciary (excepting the Supreme Court -- more on that in a moment).  But now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, and President Trump will have the opportunity to populate his administration with whomever he sees fit, not to mention a slew of district and circuit court judges. Cue the Democratic regret.  Seriously: Thanks, Harry Reid.  Come to think of it, if they really want to troll the Senate's chief troll on his way out the door, the GOP caucus could sign a 'thank you' note to him for empowering conservatives and the Trump administration.  Meanwhile, here is Chris Coons expressing regret and making a terrible argument:

CNN: 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 —

CNN: 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.

"I do regret that," he says, looking back wistfully upon his fateful 2013 decision to march in lockstep with Reid and strip away the very powers he how wishes he had at his disposal.  And I'd write a detailed response to his rubbish point about the presidential and Senate 'popular votes,' but oh look -- I already did.  Another note: President Trump will have an immediate opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, thanks to the Biden Rule.  Reid's filibuster nuke gambit held out a fig leaf exception for SCOTUS, maintaining the possibility of a filibuster for those picks.  Liberals will undoubtedly squeal if he follows through on his promise and picks a strong (preferably young) constitutionalist in the mold of Scalia, and some on the Left will likely urge their Senators to mount filibusters -- especially if Trump gets a second or third bite at the apple.  If Schumer and company try to block qualified Supreme Court nominees, the GOP should invoke the Kaine Rule (click through for an explanation) and expand the Reid Rule to include appointments to the high court.  It's abundantly clear that Democrats were preparing to do so on behalf of President Hillary with their newly-recaptured Senate majority.  They said as much.  Oops.  Ed says it well: "Hope you enjoy the Senate majority you helped build in single-party governance, Mr. Coons. You deserve it."

Parting thought: The legislative filibuster is a very different proposition. Senate Republicans may be frustrated and tempted to shatter the filibuster to impede bills from passage, but that would be a short-sighted mistake.  This column makes a good case for why.  Fortunately, it seems as though Senators on both sides of the aisle recognize the perils of messing with the legislative filibuster, even as that tool for blocking nominees has been eroded -- and probably killed off -- by the Democrats.  Harry Reid's legacy.