The Democratic Party sincerely regrets having to end the filibuster, but they simply have no choice.
That’s the latest talking point from Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D), who told Fox News on Sunday that he wishes “we wouldn’t even have started this a decade ago” when former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) set the precedent for weakening the filibuster.
Reid’s move set into motion a partisan battle that has now reached a fever pitch, as liberals frustrated with Republican opposition to Joe Biden’s agenda in a narrowly divided Senate call for the filibuster to be eliminated altogether.
“We are where we are”
Initially, Reid’s “nuclear option” only applied to then-President Barack Obama’s appointees, lowering the threshold from 60 votes to 51. Republicans under President Donald Trump later expanded it to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.
Alluding to a parallel fight over court-packing, Warner complained Sunday that the Supreme Court’s rightward shift under Trump would not have been possible without Reid setting the precedent for rolling the filibuster back, but “we are where we are,” he lamented.
Democrats now have no option but to erode the filibuster even further, in order to protect the right to vote from an assault by Republicans, Warner claimed.
“And the idea that somehow to protect the rights of the minority in the Senate, we’re going to cut out rights of minorities and young people all across the country — that’s just not right to me,” he alleged, according to Fox.
Echoes of Obama
Warner continued to make fanciful claims that Republicans are trying to stop people from voting and called for a “small carve out” in the filibuster to prevent this alleged disenfranchisement from coming to pass. “I don’t want the Senate to become like the House,” Warner told Fox.
“But I do believe when it comes to voting rights, when it comes to that basic right to exercise and participate in democracy,” he added, “if we have to do a small carve out on filibuster for voting rights — that is the only area where I’d allow that kind of reform.”
While he claims to regret the current situation, Warner apparently supports ending the filibuster to specifically ram through partisan “voting rights” legislation that would place his party in control of elections. Is that supposed to be some kind of reasonable compromise?
And while seemingly moderate, Warner is echoing liberals who have increasingly derided the filibuster as a “Jim Crow relic,” in Obama’s words.
For his part, Biden pushed back on calls to end that “relic” last week, saying it would lead to “chaos,” as CBS News reported. But how long can he maintain that argument, if the filibuster is being used to deny people the right to vote, as his party claims?