As the proposed Democrat destruction of the filibuster died in the Senate last week, Democrats immediately used the very same technique — the filibuster — to stop a Republican bill that would have imposed sanctions on Russia over its threatened invasion of Ukraine.
Without getting into whether the sanctions bill was good or bad, the White House said it was opposed to sanctions because sanctions make it more difficult for Biden to negotiate with Russia.
A minority of Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), decided to give the White House some diplomatic cover for negotiations and kill the bill by filibuster, even if they supported sanctions in general against Russia.
And that use of the filibuster by Democrats helped demonstrate the flaws in the argument that liberals make — like those at Vox — that the filibuster only entrenches a minority from obstructing a majority from doing what it desires.
“First, we’re finally seeing, I think, a level of frustration, over the misuse of the filibuster, not as an infrequently applied tool by a minority on an issue about which they feel very, very strongly, but as a cynical weapon of mass obstruction,” used by Republicans against Democrats, said political scientist Norm Ornstein in an interview with Vox.
While the frustration by liberals is very real, the “misuse” label is certainly subjective enough to make it objectively a lie.
The Democrats weren’t even able to muster a majority vote for Biden’s Build Back Better social legislation and the so-called voting “reforms” that the White House wanted passed, let alone a super-majority to get past a potential filibuster that Democrats said they needed to pass their legislation.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Manchin were “no” votes on both pieces of legislation, meaning the Democrats would fall two votes shy of a tie in the Senate, not enough to pass the legislation even if the filibuster was busted up by the Democrats.
Sinema said that in part her “no” vote was an attempt to prevent further “rampant political division” if the filibuster was rejected on a partisan basis.
But the liberals at Vox want nothing like bipartisanship in the Senate today.
“Certainly there was a time when we had well-established norms in the Senate that fostered problem-solving and bipartisanship,” Ornstein told Vox. “That time is long gone.”
That time passed apparently sometime after Vox trumpeted a “bipartisan” infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in the fall. And before the recent vote on Russian sanctions.
“Long-live bipartisanship, bipartisanship is dead”?
It’s much more likely that the Democrats’ need for the partisan murder of the filibuster is related to the widespread belief that they’ll be in the minority next year after the midterm elections and want to pass things they know the GOP will be afraid to repeal, like popular spending programs and feel-good social justice crusades.