Senator Mitch McConnell’s opinion piece in the New York times discussed the Democrats wanting to end the Senate filibuster on legislation. Removing the filibuster means removing the 60/100 Senate vote required to end any floor debate that acts as a delay or block on a bill, and instead making it a 51/100 vote.

His warning to Democrats was to remember what happened in 2013: The Democrats wanted to end filibuster on nominations by changing the vote required on ending debate on nominations from a super majority (2/3 majority) to a simple majority (more that 1/2). This rule change was then turned around and used by Republicans in 2017 (when they retook the majority) to secure numerous nominations. He tells the readers that the Democrats will face a similar regret if they remove the Senate filibuster on legislation. It is worth mentioning that he never explains how removing filibuster from lawmaking is the same thing as making it easier to nominate judges.

He evokes the language of the founders of the Constitution (because why not?). Using James Madison’s own words, filibuster acts as an “additional impediment” and “complicated check” on “improper acts of legislation.” He also quotes Thomas Jefferson: “great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.”

However none of these quotes are relevant at all to the Democrats’ reasoning to end filibuster, which is to push through legislation responding to climate change. Such directives would hardly be considered “improper acts of legislation,” unless it is improper to ensure the immediate survival of Earth’s current ecosystems. Climate change bills are more of an existential necessity than a “great innovation.” The result is not to burden “slender majorities” but to save all beings on Earth from underestimated, irreversible, and imminent damage.

McConnell’s words: “I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power (It is not odd, because that is what partisanship entails). Certainly it is curious that liberals are choosing this moment, when Americans have elected Republican majorities three consecutive times (I am assuming he forgot that America voted for a Democratic House in 2018) and counting, to attack the minority’s powers.”

Senator McConnell, if this minority can somehow miraculously tell us why climate change is not a threat, then there would be something to attack.

If the Democrats retake the Senate and keep the House in 2020, then it would be very difficult for any Republicans to block Democrat-backed bills. Do I understand his fears, that being an enemy of the Democrat, he does not want to give them free reign? Yes. But do I fear free reign of Democrats if it means emergency climate change bills get passed? No.

If this filibuster removal does happen, the Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves. You can only lobby for and defend climate-destroying industries for so long before common sense starts seeping into people’s minds.

 

 

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