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Republicans Insist On Preserving Filibuster (Except When They Don’t)

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Republicans are mounting an aggressive campaign to keep their power to block nearly all of the new Democratic majority's legislative proposals.

But while they now defend the Senate's filibuster rule as vital for "bipartisanship," they unanimously voted to eliminate it for Supreme Court nominations less than four years ago.

While it only takes a simple majority in the 100-member U.S. Senate to pass legislation, with few exceptions it takes a three-fifths supermajority — 60 votes — to end debate and actually hold a vote. Segregationists long used those cloture rules to block civil rights legislation and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell used them a record-breaking number of times to obstruct President Barack Obama's agenda.

Senate rules would allow just 51 senators to change that 60-vote threshold. After Democrats retook a narrow majority in the chamber on Wednesday, McConnell (R-KY) and his colleagues began demanding Democrats agree in advance not to do so.

Much of their argument has centered on the importance of preserving the super-majority requirement as a way to ensure bipartisan decisions.

But back in April 2017, the 60-vote requirement also applied to Supreme Court nominations. When Donald Trump nominated conservative Neil Gorsuch to the high court, he lacked the needed supermajority to be confirmed.

Rather than find a nominee palatable to a large bipartisan majority, McConnell and every Republican senator voted to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. They then confirmed him on a mostly party-line vote for a lifetime appointment.

That has not stopped many of those same Republican senators from taking the opposite view now.

McConnell is currently blocking an organizing resolution that would allow Senate committees to operate, demanding that he keep his power to block bills.

"Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years," his spokesman told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

"The 60 vote cloture requirement (filibuster rule) requires bipartisanship and provides stability in our laws -- something we should all want in a big, diverse country of 330 million people," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted on Friday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) agreed, tweeting on Friday, "Senate GOP majority fended off calls to end legislative filibuster incl from Pres Trump We didn't cave 2pressure 2go 'nuclear' on legis filibuster bc we knew weight of keeping Senate the gr8 deliberative body Framers of Constitution intended Its time for Senate Democrats 2do same."

On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted a years-old quote from Biden explaining the rationale for the filibuster rule, opining, "Makes sense to me!"

According to a Politico report on Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) backed McConnell's efforts to force Democrats to keep the rule, saying, "You want to do it before there's an emotional, difficult, controversial issue. So that it isn't issue-driven, it's institution-driven."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the outlet that his party needs Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to say "we're not going to change the legislative filibuster."

Sens. McConnell, Cornyn, Grassley, Rubio, Collins, and Graham all voted for the 2017 rule change.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

What President Biden Would Have To Do If Republicans Fill Ginsburg Seat Despite Election Loss

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

At the very least, Senate Republicans stole one seat from the American people in 2016 when they refused to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February that year fully nine months before the November election.

Within hours, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged that his GOP caucus would refuse to replace Scalia until the presidential election took place. "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," McConnell said, as Democratic lawmakers were still offering condolences to Scalia's family. And after President Barack Obama nominated a relatively moderate judge, Merrick Garland, to fill Scalia's seat, McConnell refused to even give him a hearing, let alone a vote.

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Mitch McConnell Didn’t Just Steal A Supreme Court Seat

When history gathers the men who made the presidency of Donald Trump possible, lingering in a corner behind the blinding glare of Julian Assange and the massive 6’8” frame of James Comey will be Mitch McConnell, his corners mouth shaped into a smile that resembles a twisted mustache.

McConnell will want you to believe that history owes him credit for his strategic brilliance. And it’s undeniable that his campaign of massive obstruction topped off by the historic robbery of a Supreme Court seat, helped unite a GOP that was fracturing like a fissured fibula and make Trump’s improbable rise to the White House possible.

The Senate Majority Leader calls not allowing the appointment of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a fair hearing “the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved in.” And as usual, he’s being both self-congratulatory and deceptive.

Yes, Trump did better with white evangelical voters than Mitt Romney, John McCain and even an actual evangelical George W. Bush, according to an analysis from Pew.

This is a result so unlikely that it’s almost unmistakable from satire.

Trump is a thrice married accumulator of failed casinos, stolen valor from other people’s charity and sexual harassment allegations. For him to even be nearly as competitive with the religious right as devout believers like Romney and Bush or even McCain, the poster boy for the Reagan Revolution, is a monumental victory for both hypocrisy and tactical politics. Trump proved that the right’s feigned concerns for other people’s marriages was absolutely negotiable as long what it was offered in return was up to four revanchist Supreme Court Justices who will reshape and regress America for as long as half a century.

McConnell understands that since Brown v. Board of Education, the Court has been the defining issue for a conservative movement that fully comprehends our justice system’s power to remake or restore old biases. Holding a seat as a lure for the right was an opportunity Trump seized by putting out a list of Heritage Foundation-approved Justices and picking Mike Pence, a walking proof point for the argument that his agenda could be captured by the religious right.

It was a brilliant strategy from a man who has led a movement that recognizing the dusk of its demographic advantages decided to drop all pretenses of pomp and statesmanship for the pure embrace of power politics.

The Senate minority led by McConnell used the filibuster to block 79 of Obama’s nominees by 2013. That’s 79 in less than five five years, “compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic,” Dana Milbank notes. When Senate Republicans refused to confirm anyone to the D.C. appeals court just after President Obama became the first president elected with 51 percent of the popular vote twice, Senate Democrats went nuclear and ended the filibuster for all appointments, except the Supreme Court. McConnell completed the nuclear fallout he made inevitable last week by denying the minority the right to block a young far right Justice selected by a man who lost the popular vote by 3 million usurping an older compromise pick from a genuinely popular president.

McConnell sees shredding of tradition as no vice in the pursuit of preserving privilege.

Nothing was going to stop him from taking Garland’s seat — not even the interference of a foreign government in our election.

This takes us to what Brian Beutler reveals as the real most consequential decision of McConnell’s career” and that’s the decision to shut down any attempt to make the public aware of Russia’s interference into our elections, which had been invited and embraced by Trump himself.

Beutler notes that “leaders of the U.S. intelligence community sought a united front ahead of the fall against Russian election interference—whatever its nature—and McConnell shot it down.” And not only shot it down, promised to impugn any effort to expose Putin’s efforts as false and partisan. This was threat that the Obama Administration calculated would harm both the Clinton campaign and the fabric of our democracy.

“The upshot is that McConnell drew a protective fence around Russian efforts to sabotage Clinton’s candidacy, by characterizing any effort to stop it as partisan politicization of intelligence at Trump’s expense,” Beutler wrote.

So as the FBI investigated a presidential campaign for possible collusion with foreign power, the public only learned of the possible existence, in the days just before the election, of some emails that may have validated the hazy, wild accusations being flung at Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump and his foreign allies.

Rather than broaden its message or revamp its failed policies, the GOP has declared war on democracy. And when history notes who made this strategy and unchecked madman it elected possible, much of the credit should go to Mitch McConnell.

That will be one thing he didn’t steal.

Danziger: They Bombed The Senate To Save It

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.