EDITORIAL: Time to call Schumer’s systematic filibuster bluff
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer left the choice to his fellow Republicans on Monday. Either drop their opposition to so-called voting rights legislation that needs 60 votes to pass by January 17, or he will take the necessary steps to kill the filibuster forever.
The GOP should follow its bluff. The legislation Mr. Schumer is trying to push through the Senate would make the American election less secure. This would federalize national and local elections and make it more difficult to put in place safeguards against electoral fraud. In the view of many who oppose it, it would give Democrats a distinct systemic advantage in future elections.
It’s certainly a pass, but one the New York Democrat and his colleagues need to get if they are to stay competitive in states that aren’t definitely blue. No one has come up with a good reason why voters shouldn’t have to prove themselves to be who they say they are when they vote. It doesn’t make sense that someone would be required to show photo ID before entering the United States Capitol to meet with Mr. Schumer, but not before voting for him.
If Mr Schumer gets what he wants, it will open the floodgates to a multitude of bad laws and destroy one of the few remaining protections preventing the interests of small states from being overrun by the concerns and desires of the big ones.
All the talk now about filibustering focuses on how it creates the need for 60 senators to vote in the affirmative to pass a bill. But it is also a tool that allows a single senator to stop the progress of a bill. See it as a procedural manifestation of the founders’ essential compromise that led states to be seen as equal, regardless of size or population, in the upper house of Congress.
Sadly, 20th century Southern Democrats used it effectively to prevent black Americans from claiming their share of the American dream. But its misuse by racist Democratic demagogues to prevent people of their skin color from exercising their economic and political rights doesn’t make it inherently bad.
Mr. Schumer should be allowed to try and kill the filibuster if he wants to. But he will have to convince small state senators like Jon Tester of Montana, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and others, to go with him. Make no mistake: it will be a vote that traps Democrats in small states between the interests of their constituents at home and the progressives who lead the National Democratic Party. Who knows what they will do when the time comes?
Even if Mr. Schumer gets what he wants, there is always a silver lining. At the next Congress, Mitch McConnell and the new Republican majority will be able to pass everything in the Senate through the Democrats blocked by systematic obstruction, starting with the repeal of Obamacare. Then they can repeal the bills that Mr. Schumer intends to pass by the next election. And then when they’re done, they can put the filibuster back in place to make sure nothing like this happens again.