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Sprinkles from the Left

A majority of Democratic voters disapprove of the filibuster, while just a small percentage approve of it. (54% & 9%, respectively; Monmouth University poll, April 29)

And so history repeats itself. During Barack Obama’s first term as president, Mitch McConnell said bluntly that, as leader of the Senate’s Republicans, his primary responsibility was to ensure Obama would be “a one-term president.” Now the Senate minority leader says that “100% of my focus” is on blocking President Joe Biden’s agenda. Funny how public service and bipartisan cooperation never seem to come into the equation…

The McConnell conundrum, though, is bigger than infrastructure or any other single issue. His focus, as always, is on the good of his party rather than the good of the nation. It’s why he led Republicans in shooting down the proposed commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He knows that, as crucial as such a review is to the nation, it would likely put his party in a bad light, and that’s ultimately all that matters.

McConnell’s nickname of “Doctor No” is only relevant because of the Senate filibuster. That historic anachronism, which isn’t in the Constitution, means the minority party today can effectively thwart most legislation it doesn’t like — which, in the case of McConnell, is virtually any Democratic legislation. He has said it himself, repeatedly, that he views his responsibility not to serve America but to wrench the Senate gavel back from the Democrats. The longer they leave the filibuster in place, the more they enable this partisan nihilism.

Editorial Board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House, why does it matter if the Senate Republican minority stands in opposition? The answer: the Senate filibuster, an outdated rule that was never intended to require a 60-vote majority and has a long history of use by segregationists to protect Jim Crow and kill voting and civil rights bills. Unless Democrats take steps to reform or eliminate the filibuster, McConnell can use this obstructionist weapon to block the For the People Act — and any other legislation.

By now, a growing number of people understand that the filibuster isn’t carved in stone and certainly wasn’t written into the Constitution. One of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, railed against attempts by a “pertinacious minority” to “control the opinion of a majority,” and US Presidents James Madison and Thomas Jefferson expressed similar sentiments. What’s more, Senate rules have changed many times, including by Senate Democrats in 2013 and by Sen. McConnell himself in 2017.

This has also become a top issue for activists, advocates and others across the country who have a growing understanding that the filibuster stands in the way of progress on the issues they care about.

Eli Zupnick is a spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a coalition of more than 70 organizations aiming to ensure that progressive measures aren't blocked by the filibuster in Congress, and former communications director for US Sen. Patty Murray. (Published in CNN)

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) declared in a Sunday op-ed that he is against the For the People Act because it is not bipartisan…

It’s time for Manchin to put up or share blame for Republicans’ subversion of democracy. Let him come up with 10 Republicans for H.R. 4 and for a slimmed down H.R. 1. Let him find four more Republicans to support the Jan. 6 commission. If he cannot, then his thesis that the filibuster promotes debate and makes way for compromise collapses and his role in promoting the tyranny of the minority is laid bare…

Manchin’s Democratic colleagues have a right to demand he present compromise legislation that has 10 Republicans. What magic formula is he aware of that has evaded others? Where are four more Republicans in addition to the six who would support the Jan. 6 commission?…

The time for Manchin’s excuse-mongering is over. It is time to demonstrate his bipartisan notions are more than fantasy.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post ($ or try incognito)

Sprinkles from the Right

A majority of Republican voters approve of the filibuster, while just a small percentage disapprove of it (61% & 13%, respectively; Monmouth University poll, April 29)

For Democrats, the Biden presidency is an hourglass and the sand is running out. They have two years to enact the “transformational” agenda that, presto change-o, will turn Biden into the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And since they have incredibly narrow margins in the Congress — four votes in the House, a tied Senate — they have to remain unified…

The Senate filibuster isn’t the Democrats’ chief obstacle. Coherence is. Biden is pretending he has 60 votes for the liberal wish list. In reality, he doesn’t have 50. So what does he do? He blames his party’s congressional majority of “effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.” He doesn’t ask why the majority is so small. He doesn’t rethink his plans. Instead, he amps up the rhetoric. He says Republicans are engaged in an “un-American,” “truly unprecedented assault on our democracy.”…

If you listened only to Biden, you might conclude that the 2020 election was a victory for the Left. It was not. The election continued a three-decade-long partisan stalemate and, for at least two years, handed slight control of government to the Democrats. Why? Because the public disapproved of Donald Trump.

It is this failure to recognize the limited nature of his electoral mandate that has set Biden up for disappointment. “June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” he told the audience during his speech in Tulsa, Okla., this week. It more likely will be a month of frustration. The president’s long hot summer is just getting started.

Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon

The president has repeatedly claimed a mandate for action despite knowing better. Even with the Democratic Party’s twin Georgia runoff victories in January, it ended the election with a 50-50 Senate and the narrowest Democratic House majority since before the New Deal. The prudent course would have been to govern from the middle, working with Republicans on incremental change.

Democrats instead decided to “go big” with a strategy that had no margin for error and relied on two big bets. First, that they could juke or blow up the Senate rules to get around the 60-vote filibuster. Second, that they could force or cajole every member of their razor-thin majority to adopt one of the most progressive agendas in U.S. history…

More telling might be Mr. Biden’s recent lashing of the “two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.” This attack on Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema is dishonest; VoteView.com shows that both senators overwhelmingly vote with their party…

Maybe Democrats will pull off the tall feat of eliminating the filibuster or compelling complete party unity on a reconciliation blowout. Democrats are effective at wielding brass knuckles. But if Mr. Biden ends this year with little of what he promised, it won’t be because of parliamentarian rulings or disloyal Democrats. It will be because he dramatically overreached.

Kimberley Strassel, WSJ

Gutting the Senate rules would be one of the most consequential structural changes in Washington in living memory. The institutional character of the Senate is built around those rules and their incentives, which affect everything from the power of individual senators to the composition of Senate committees to the position of the majority leader to the influence of the president. The nuclear option is a transformative case of constitutional hardball. Nuking the filibuster for nominations has sharpened polarization in the Senate and encouraged more envelope-pushing behavior from both majorities and minorities. Increasing the nuclear yield would almost certainly worsen that dynamic.

Fred Bauer, National Review