Nick Paleologos: Filibuster the Filibuster

Last week, the US Senate voted 54-46 to strengthen gun safety laws in America. It failed.

That’s right. 54%–a solid majority of the US Senate–voted in favor of universal background checks, and the bill still lost. Because the filibuster rule requires a 60% vote for anything to pass.

Which made me think about Elizabeth Warren.

You will recall that Ms. Warren carried her reform message together with everybody’s highest hopes into the halls of congress. Shortly after her election–I received an email from her. This is what she said:

“You know what I want to do. You know what I care about. But here’s the honest truth: Any senator can make a phone call to register an objection to a bill, then business comes to a screeching halt. On the first day of the new session in January, the Senate will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a simple majority vote. I’ve joined Senator Jeff Merkle and four other senators to fight for this reform on day one. No more bringing the work of this country to a dead stop.”

Nick paleologosThe only problem is that on the first day of the session she fought for nothing of the sort.

Neither did Jeff Merkle, nor any other senator—Democrat or Republican. And by fight, I mean rise to their feet on the floor of the Senate and use the filibuster to change the filibuster. Bring that shameful institution to a screeching halt on behalf of majority rule.

Stop everything. Force a national conversation on why—in the “world’s greatest deliberative body”–a simple majority isn’t enough.

Why–after 20 kids got their heads blown off—doesn’t 54% of Senators voting in favor of gun safety legislation advance that bill to the next step? I’d like Ms. Warren, and Mr. Reid, and the Democratic majority in the United States Senate to explain to the parents of those twenty dead six year olds, why protecting the filibuster is so much more important than protecting our children?

Oh and one more thing. Please stop sending out stupid petitions. Do your job. You promised to fix the filibuster. Fix it. Because your failure to fix it–not Ted Cruz, not Rand Paul, not Mitch McConnell—your failure to fix the filibuster will absolutely cost the lives of more innocent kids.
On the first day of this new session, the Democratic majority in the US Senate had a golden opportunity to restore the principle of majority rule and they chose instead to punt. Make no mistake about it, every major policy failure since can be traced directly back to that breathtakingly irresponsible choice.
If universal background checks—or any other sensible, national policy—can’t muster a majority in the US Senate, I suppose I can live with that. I wouldn’t be happy about it.
But I’d accept it.
What’s unacceptable is when that same policy earns a majority of votes and stilldoesn’t pass. Any Senator who can live with that outcome doesn’t deserve to be there.


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