Biden's Filibuster Ultimatum
Category: Op/EdVia: vic-eldred • 2 weeks ago • 16 comments
By: The Editorial Board (WSJ)
It isn't getting much attention, but Democrats have made clear in the last week that they are offering Republicans an ultimatum on the Senate's legislative filibuster: Give them what they want on policy, or they'll blow up the 60-vote rule and claim Republicans made them do it.
President Biden tiptoed around that threat at his Thursday press conference as he endorsed a "talking filibuster," which is a minor change, but anyone listening heard it. "We're going to get a lot done," he said. "And if we have to—if there's complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we'll have to go beyond what I'm talking about."
Mr. Biden seems to be equating GOP opposition to Democratic legislation with "complete lockdown and chaos," as if those are words have ever been used to describe the staid Senate. But note the implicit warning. If Republicans don't go along with his priorities, then breaking the filibuster will be justified.
Senate Democrats also laid out that strategy through an op-ed by Maine Sen. Angus King this week in the Washington Post.
"As we enter this new Congress with a new president and a new Senate majority (barely), the question for me is how [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues will play their hand; if they are willing to work to find compromise and consensus on important initiatives (infrastructure, voting rights or immigration reform, for example), the importance of getting rid of the filibuster diminishes," Mr. King wrote. "If, on the other hand, they just say no, the necessity—and likelihood—of filibuster reform would only increase. That is to say, in large measure the outcome is in their hands."
Got that? If Democrats break the filibuster, Republicans will be responsible. As political offers go, this is like Paulie Walnuts demanding payment from shop owners or he’ll burn the business down. Imagine if Mr. McConnell had tried that one when Republicans ran the entire government in 2017 and 2018.
House and Senate Democrats have their narrowest majorities in decades, but they are also the most bloody-minded and they are bringing Mr. Biden along for the ride. Republicans shouldn’t bow to this political extortion.