Republicans Are Running Out of Filibuster Threats

| Wed Jul. 10, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

Democrats are maybe, possibly threatening to change the filibuster rules for confirmation of executive branch nominees, and naturally Republicans are threatening in return to bring the Senate to a grinding halt if any action is taken that reduces their power to, um, bring the Senate to a grinding halt. But Ed Kilgore wonders if this threat even has any meaning these days:

It's not at all clear that if Democrats invoked the "nuclear trigger" and Republicans went absolutely insane in retaliatory wrath, we'd even be able to tell the difference. What can Senate Republicans threaten to do that they're not already doing in the way of impeding the traditional functioning of Congress and of the federal government in general? Sabotage the implementation of major legislation already enacted (check)? Gum up federal agency operations (check)? Risk a debt default (check)?

Oh, I dunno. There's still the business of objecting to committee meetings that go beyond the first two hours of the day. And Republicans could start filibustering Mother's Day resolutions, I suppose. But that stuff is juvenile enough that even Mitch McConnell might be worried about the bad press it would produce. So yeah: what's left in the obstructionist toolkit, anyway?

There is one thing, of course: a threat to do away with filibusters on judges the next time Republicans are in charge of the Senate and the White House. The problem is that Democrats widely believe that Republicans plan to do this anyway at the first opportunity. So I'm not sure that's much of a threat either.

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