BreitbartTV has posted a great compilation video of the arguments that top Democrats, including President Obama, made against the prospect of Republicans using the “nuclear option” to break Democratic filibusters in 2005. Their words stand in stark contrast to Democrats current statements in favor of ramming health care legislation through with just 51 votes in the Senate.
No doubt, Democrats would argue that using reconciliation for health care would not be as drastic a step as Republicans were contemplating in 2005. But if you listen to the arguments that Democrats were making back then, they were much more fundamental. They were arguing that majority rule in the Senate would undermine the checks and balances created by the founders, and defeat the whole purpose of having two chambers of Congress.
The whole video is worth watching, but I’ve transcribed some of the highlights.
Obama: “What I worry would be that you essentially still have two chambers, the House and the Senate, but that you simply have majoritarian absolute power on either side. And that’s just not what the founders intended.”
Harry Reid: “The right to extend debate is never more important then when one party controls Congress and the White House. In these cases the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.”
Chris Dodd talked about bipartisanship: “We need to sit down and work with each other. The rules of this institution have required that. That’s why we exist. Why have a bicameral legislative body? Why have two chambers? What were the framers thinking about 218 years ago? They understood, Mr. President, that there is a tyranny of the majority.”
Dianne Feinstein: “If the Republican leadership insists on forcing the nuclear option, the Senate becomes ipso facto the House of Representatives, where the majority rules supreme, and the party in power can dominate, and control the agenda with absolute power.”
Hillary Clinton: “You’ve got majority rule, and then you’ve got this Senate over here where people can slow things down, where they can debate, where they have something called the filibuster. You know, it seems like it’s a little less than efficient. Well, that’s right. It is. And deliberately designed to be so.”
And Joe Biden: “I say to my friends on the Republican side, you may own the field now, but you won’t own it forever. And I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”
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