Republicans Are Running Out of Filibuster Threats

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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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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