The GOP Won’t Let Democrats Change Senate Rules
We are at a critical moment in history.
With the slimmest of majorities, Democrats haven’t been able to pass their wildly unpopular and dangerous agenda. As a result, they are considering using the nuclear option to eliminate the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for legislation. And, they are doing it under the guise of “protecting voting rights.”
Make no mistake, this power grab is not about voting rights. Instead, it’s about advancing one party’s radical agenda.
Even some of my fellow Senate colleagues on the opposite side agree that preserving the filibuster is in the best interest of the American people and in ensuring that the Senate continues to serve as the world’s greatest deliberative body. When speaking about whether she would support eliminating the filibuster, Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema said on the Senate floor that she would “not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”
And my colleague from West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin, followed up by saying, “Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel onto the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart — especially when one party controls both Congress and the White House.”
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s also look back and see where other Democrats have stood on this issue in the past.
Also from my home state of West Virginia, the late Senator Robert Byrd — a longtime Democrat — was unequivocal in his defense of preserving the Senate’s rules. He wrote that, “the Senate has been the last fortress of minority rights and freedom of speech in this Republic for more than two centuries. I pray that Senators will pause and reflect before ignoring that history and tradition in favor of the political priority of the moment.”
During the previous administration, Senate Democrats used the filibuster more than 300 times. And in 2017, 32 Democrats joined Republicans — myself included — in a letter advocating to preserve the filibuster.
In 2005, President Biden said in a Senate speech, “At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill — it’s about compromise and moderation.” In this same speech, he said when it came to eliminating the filibuster that, “It is not only a bad idea, it upsets the constitutional design and it disservices the country.”
But, he’s not the only one who has done a complete 180 when it comes to the filibuster. Majority Leader Schumer once said it would be “doomsday for Democracy” if the filibuster were to be eliminated. More recently, he called the filibuster “the most important distinction between the Senate and the House.”
So, what changed? Well, Democrats now can’t get their way, so they want to change the rules. If we change the rules to where only 50 votes are needed to pass legislation, there will be zero motivation for the two sides to work together.’
That compromise President Biden mentioned? Gone.
Just as badly, legislative accomplishments could be undone and redone over and over with just one flip of a Senate seat.
Policies harmful to Americans across the country could be enacted immediately. Policies like the Green New Deal, court packing, federalizing our elections, packing the Senate with new states, defunding the police, attacking the Second Amendment for law-abiding Americans, and more.
Ramming radical policies through Congress without even attempting to gain consensus is not what the founders envisioned, and it’s not how Americans want us to operate.
After the president’s speech in Georgia likening honest differences in opinion to segregationist politicians of the past, and Leader Schumer’s full steam ahead toward socialism, I and my Republican colleagues will continue to stand firm for what is right for America, including its bedrock institutions like the United States Senate.
Rest assured, those willing to change the rules to benefit themselves will do it again and again and again. Today, it’s supposedly about “voting rights.” Tomorrow, it will be about gun control.
And the next day, it will be about open borders.
The last time Democrats changed the rules to benefit themselves in the short term, Leader McConnell rightly predicted they would regret it. This time, with much more on the line, will Democrats regret doing it again? You bet they will. But, unfortunately, the country will suffer the consequences.
Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Glen Dale native, represents West Virginia in the United States Senate.