George Will beat me to my idea for today’s Thought of the Morning with a column about the Senate filibuster based on a recent talk by Rep. Tom McClintock, who argued in Hillsdale’s Imprimis that what we should do is go back to the old way of doing filibusters. With all of the talk of ending the filibuster, at least for Supreme Court nominees, maybe we should instead talk of imposing the burden of a real filibuster on Democrats. Make the Democrats take and hold the Senate floor for weeks to block Gorsuch.
The filibuster was meant to extend real debate, not close it off. Back in the 1970s the Senate adopted a “two-track” system whereby if a minority blocked proceeding to a vote on a bill through a filibuster, the bill was set aside and the Senate went on with other business:
McClintock urges the Senate to make a “motion to proceed” to consideration of a bill undebatable and hence immune to filibustering: “Great debates should be had on great matters — but not great debates on whether to debate.” And he says the Senate should abandon the two-track system. This would prevent the Senate from conducting other business during a filibuster but would require filibusterers to hold the floor. As he says, it was this mutual inconvenience that, between 1917 and 1970, made filibusters rare and that intensified the pressure to resolve the impasse by way of compromise.
Question: Will Senate Democrats who are up for re-electiojn next year from the states Trump won, like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill, really want to stop all Senate business to please their rabid base? How may Senate seats do Democrats want to lose next year? And as extended filibuster by the likes of Al Franken and Dianne Feinstein will simply expose their foolishness to more Americans.
Bring it on. (Add a further possible twist of the knife. McConnell could engineer a short recess of the Senate, during which time Trump could make a recess appointment to the Court on the argument that the Court needs its full bench to decide pressing cases. Liberals would howl at the moon. Rinse and repeat until the Democrats get over it and allow Gorsuch to be confirmed.)