U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander took to the Senate floor last week to preach once again about the virtues of the filibuster and to try to stop a push by some lawmakers to nuke it, reports Michael Collins. This time, he wasn’t lecturing Democrats. He was scolding his own party.
“Republicans who want to abolish the filibuster in the United States Senate are Republicans with short memories,” he began, launching into a nine-minute defense of the parliamentary stalling tactic, its long tradition in the Senate, its benefits in protecting the voice of the minority and the dangers that await any party looking to abolish it.
The speech was reminiscent of the good scolding he gave to Democrats two years ago, when they held the Senate majority and stopped Republicans from filibustering most of President Barack Obama’s nominees. The change did not prevent the filibuster of legislation, but Alexander was livid and accused Democrats of a power grab and labeled the move tyranny.
Now it’s some Republicans who consider the filibuster a nuisance, rendering them incapable of pushing their own agenda through a Congress in which, for the first time in eight years, they hold a majority in both the House and the Senate.
In the past two weeks, Democrats have successfully used the filibuster to stop the Senate from voting on bills that would block the Iran nuclear deal and end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.