This past Thursday Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, passed a rule to eliminate the filibuster for all appointments to the government with the exception of the U.S. Supreme Court. The reason used was the minority, in this case the Republicans, used the filibuster to block the majority, in this case the Democrats, from confirming Obama’s nominations for various appointments. We need to take a look at the history to see why this came about.
For the past 225 years the filibuster was used to give the minority a say in the government. Requiring 60 votes to unblock nominations required some support from the minority. Obama has had more nominees blocked than any previous President. Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster to make the minority non-existent. Republicans will now have no say in any appointments made by the Administration as long as the majority members vote in lock-step with their leadership.
The way the system was set up to work, if the Administration proposed a nominee that was hard left or right, the opposition would block. This way, the President knew he had to have some support from the minority, so he would still nominate people who supported his position, but were not radicals from either end of the political spectrum. This system has worked very well for 2 and a quarter centuries.
In 2005, when the Republicans controlled the Senate, the minority, Democrats, blocked many of the Bush legislative initiatives and appointments. The Republicans floated the idea of eliminating the filibuster. All the Democrats went to the well of the Senate to denounce the Republican plan. They said it destroyed the minority a chance to participate in the government. The end result was the Democrats let up on using the filibuster and the Republicans did not employ the nuclear option.
Today, the Obama Administration is nominating very liberal judges for the federal bench. He tries to ignore the Republicans completely. The Republicans are using the filibuster to stop the Federal Circuit Districts from moving hard left. Obama has said he wants to remake the court system in America. The filibuster allows the minority to force Obama to nominate judges that are left of center but not radically hard left. Now Obama can get his radical judges approved and make the Republicans mute.
We will have federal elections again in 2014. Mid-term elections during a Presidents second term is usually bad for the Administration. The Republicans are expected to gain seats in both the House and Senate. It is possible Republicans will control both houses. If this happens, expect the Republicans to move forward with their investigations of the various scandals. They will also block Obama’s hard left nominees. The Democrats will lose the only influence they have in the Congress. Of course, the Republicans must gain control of the Senate for this to happen.
Harry Reid has started something in motion that will stop the parties from ever working together again. As Obama’s weakness over the healthcare grows, he needs Republican votes to move various legislation. Reid has made sure that will never happen.