Almost every Democrat Senator speaking out today in favor of changing the Senate rules regarding the filibuster or who is advocating for abolishing it entirely said exactly the opposite when they were the minority party and more than once.
For instance, on May 18, 2005, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who at the time was not the Minority Leader, pleaded with Republicans to keep the filibuster option in place.
“Right now, we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. We are about to step into the abyss. I want to talk for a few minutes why we are on that precipice and why we are looking into that abyss,” he said.
“Constitutional scholars will tell us that the reason we have these rules in the Senate — unlimited debate, two-thirds to change the rules, the idea that 60 have to close off debate — is embodied in the spirit and rule of the Constitution,” Schumer stated. “That is what the Constitution is all about, and we all know it.”
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He went on to say that “It is the Senate where the Founding Fathers established a repository of checks and balances. It is not like the House of Representatives where the Majority Leader or the Speaker can snap his fingers and get what he wants. On important issues, the Founding Fathers wanted–and they were correct in my judgment–that the slimmest majority should not always govern. … The Senate is not a majoritarian body.”
Schumer would make similar arguments in later years, but it is those words in particular that came back to haunt him earlier today when Sen. Tom Cotton took to the floor of the Senate to read the speech before noting it was Schumer who had previously uttered the words. When Cotton was done, he smirked as he pointed out “how times have changed.”
“Now it’s Senator Schumer’s fingers that are hovering over the nuclear button, ready to destroy the filibuster for partisan advantage,” Cotton pointed out, and then suggesting later that “Before it’s too late, let us reflect on the wise and eloquent words of Senator Schumer, words that are as true today as they were when he spoke them. Even if Senator Schumer is singing a different tune today.”
The dunking on “leaders” like Schumer, who admitted the quiet part out loud this week about the real reason they’re pushing for filibuster changes, his second in command Dick Durbin, and others for their convenient change of heart on the filibuster never gets old. That said, it’s more than a little infuriating when Democrats including President Joe Biden suggest that the reason for their 180 is because Republicans have been “abusing it.”
It’s utter horsecrap, especially when you consider the fact that it’s Democrats who utilized the filibuster over and over and over again (some 327 times in 2020 alone) during the Trump years, the same tactic some of them now laughably decry as “racist.” It frustrated Trump so much to the point that he wanted McConnell to change the rules but McConnell smartly said no because he knew it would one day be an important tool in the arsenal of Republicans in the event they were in the minority, and the rest, as they say, is history.