The stuff I miss when I’m out: The filibuster deal

By | May 27, 2005

Okay, so I’m out for a couple of days and a couple of major news stories break. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop drinking!

Anyway, as everyone knows by now, the Senate reached a compromise to avoid the nuclear option. The AP’s short version of the deal: “Under the agreement, Democrats would pledge not to filibuster any of Bush’s future appeals court or Supreme Court nominees except in ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ For their part, Republicans agreed not to support an attempt to strip Democrats of their right to block votes.”

Add it all up, and what does it lead to? One big, stinkin’ pile of dung for the Democrats. What, exactly, did the Dems get out of this? The three most controversial judges will be confirmed. The Dems can only filibuster in ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ and there is no guarantee that the nuclear option won’t be re-introduced if the Dems do decide to stage a filibuster. After all, who gets to decide what qualifies as an ‘extraordinary circumstance?’ Don’t buy the Republican’s grumbling about this: this was all a win for the Repubs.

I understand why this was done: the Dems weren’t sure that they had enough votes to withstand a vote on the nuclear option. But if there were ever a time to take a risk, this was it! As it stands, all this did was delayed a vote. And if the Dems didn’t have the votes now, they won’t have them in a couple of months, either. Why not make the stand right here? If you get the votes, then you don’t have to worry about the nuclear option again. If you don’t get the votes, then there’s an excellent chance that the nuclear option could be used to guarantee Democratic gains in the ’06 elections.

Instead, we get nothing. Theoretically, we still have the ability to filibuster. But watch how quickly that ability is taken away the first time that the Dems try to use it. Bill Frist basically said as much. He is chomping at the bit to break this compromise and re-introduce the nuclear option.

This was a bad call. Bad, bad, bad.

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