The New York Times ran an unsigned editorial on Nov. 21, 2013 entitled “Democracy Returns to the Senate.” In light of the events of yesterday in the Senate where the Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and just this morning confirmed Neil Gorsuch as the newest Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, I thought a little re-writing was in order. My changes are in bold.
For five yearsThis year, Senate RepublicansDemocrats have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President ObamaTrump for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.
It goes on:
In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on
executive and judicialSupreme Court appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.
The only exceptions
arewere nominations to the Supreme Court, for which a filibuster would still be allowed. But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to endended those filibusters, too.
This vote was long overdue. “I have waited
18years for this moment,” said Senator Tom HarkinCharles Grassley, DemocratRepublican of Iowa.
RepublicansDemocrats warned that the rule change could haunt the DemocratsRepublicans if they lost the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and it says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.) From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate.
The editorial concludes:
DemocratsRepublicans made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which RepublicansDemocrats insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.
Not surprisingly, the New York Times has no unsigned editorial praising the Republicans for getting rid of cloture votes on Supreme Court nominees. The filibuster isn’t gone – you just have to do it the old fashioned way which involves a beach ball sized bladder and a lot of stamina.
What has surprised me the most in this whole episode was that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actually had the cojones to go nuclear. For a Republican whose spine seems to be made of Jello, that was remarkable.