Filibuster reform and power grabs
Red State digs up a post of mine from 2005 calling Bill Frist's effort to do away with the judicial filibuster a "power grab," and contrasts that unfavorably with my current advocacy for filibuster reform.
One problem: I've also described Democratic attempts to change the filibuster in mid-Congress as a power grab. See this post.
My views on the filibuster have definitely evolved since 2005. I was an amateur blogger in college back then, and it's been subsequent reporting on Congress that has convinced me that the filibuster is doing terrible damage to the institution. Plus, in the intervening five years, Republicans have made the filibuster historically ubiquitous:
But my views on power grabs haven't changed much: As I wrote the other day, I think it'd be pretty hard to defend changing the rules to weaken the minority after an election in which the minority wins the majority of the Senate elections.
That's why my preference has always been, and still remains, the creation of some sort of bipartisan committee that will propose reforms with the understanding that those rules will be adopted in six years, when we don't know which party will immediately benefit. Both sides should be thinking like potential members of the majority and of the minority when they consider reform. That gets you away from the problem of the power grab, which is about the short-term incentives of the majority, and, no less important, also gets you away from the minority's short-term incentive to maximize the power of obstruction.
Graph credit: By Norm Ornstein/The American
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