Fair Weather Filibusterers

Democrats Were Happy To Use The Filibuster When It Benefited Them In The Minority, But Now In The Majority And Under Pressure From Far-Left Activists Seem Poised To Abandon Everything They’ve Said And Done In Recent Years About Protecting The Filibuster And ‘Respect For The Minority’


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[U]nder pressure from the outside, many of our Democratic colleagues are abandoning their stated principles as fast as possible…. The framers designed the Senate to require deliberation… to force cooperation… and to ensure that federal laws in our big, diverse country earn broad enough buy-in to receive the lasting consent of the governed…. Senate Democrats parroted all these arguments when they were the ones benefiting from minority protection. When President Trump pressed Republicans to kill the filibuster, our Democratic colleagues cried foul.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/16/2021)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “My colleagues and I have refused to kill the Senate for instant gratification. In 2017 and 2018 I was lobbied to do exactly what Democrats want to do now. A sitting president leaned on me to do it. I said no. Because being a U.S. Senator comes with higher duties than steamrolling any obstacle to short-term power. I meant it. Republicans meant it. Less than two months ago, two of our Democratic colleagues said they mean it too. If they keep their word, we have a bipartisan majority that can put principle first and keep the Senate safe.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/16/2021)


Within The Last Four Years The Top Two Democratic Senate Leaders Said The Senate Should ‘Find A Way To Build A Firewall Around The Legislative Filibuster,’ And Eliminating It ‘Would Be The End Of The Senate As It Was Originally Devised And Created’ And ‘We Have To Acknowledge Our Respect For The Minority’

SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “As I have said repeatedly over the last week, week and a half, let us go no further down this road. I hope the Republican Leader and I can, in the coming months, find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House. Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No Senator would like to see that happen so let's find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.2436, 4/07/2017)

ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “What about that nuclear option, doing away with the filibuster?”
SENATE DEMOCRATIC WHIP DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “Well, I can tell you that would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers. We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.” (ABC, 1/21/2018)


The Most Senior Senate Democrats: ‘I Think The Filibuster Serves A Purpose,’ ‘It’s A Part Of Senate Tradition, Which Creates A Sobering Effect On The Body, Which Is Healthy’

AP’s ANDREW TAYLOR: “And so some of them are suggesting that the Senate should get rid of the legislative filibuster. What’s your view of that?”
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): “No, I think that -- I agree with Thomas Jefferson [who] said, you know, it’s the saucer where things cool. What I want to do though is see us come back to voting on things. Everybody’s afraid to vote on anything. I voted over 16,000 times. Of the 2,000 senators in the history of this country, there’s only two or three that have voted more than I have. I guarantee you that if somebody wants to use some of those votes against me, go back through 16,000, and say ‘man what a mistake he made on that.’ So what? I was elected to vote. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. We have to get back to real debates and real votes. The most things that pass, have been pretty overwhelming, as Senator Shelby and I have shown with appropriations. We’ve got them through with bigger margins than they have for years. And what I hear over and over again from senators is not the question of the filibuster, but why don’t we have votes on anything. I’d like to vote things up or vote them down.” (C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, 11/8/2019)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “I think it’s a part of Senate tradition, which creates a sobering effect on the body, which is healthy.” (“Senate Democrats Lukewarm On Killing The Filibuster Even If They Win The Majority Riding A Biden Wave,” Business Insider, 8/07/2020)

  • SEN. FEINSTEIN: “I don’t believe in doing that. I think the filibuster serves a purpose. It is not often used, it’s often less used now than when I first came, and I think it’s part of the Senate that differentiates itself.” (NBC’s Sahil Kapur, @sahilkapur, Twitter, 9/21/2020)


Other Senate Democrats Previously Said, ‘I Will Personally Resist Efforts To Get Rid Of It,’ ‘I Don’t Want To See The Senate Become The House,’ ‘The Consequences Of Getting Rid Of It Are Too Great,’ ‘We Should Think Long And Hard About Whether Or Not We Want To Destroy All That’

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): “I don’t want to see the Senate become the House.” (“Manchin, Tester Vow They’ll Never Nuke The Legislative Filibuster,” National Review, 11/06/2019)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): “I know it can be frustrating, but I think legislation is better when it has some bipartisan support.” (“Senate Democrats Look to Wound Filibuster but Not Kill It,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/1/2020)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): “My colleagues and I, everybody I’ve talked to, believe the legislative filibuster should stay there, and I will personally resist efforts to get rid of it.” (ABC News, @ABC, Twitter, 2/01/2019)

SEN. JACKY ROSEN (D-NV): “I think we should keep the filibuster. It’s one of the few things that we have left in order to let all of the voices be heard here in the Senate…” (“Manchin, Tester Vow They’ll Never Nuke The Legislative Filibuster,” National Review, 11/6/2019)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): “I’m a yes [on keeping the legislative filibuster]” (“Manchin, Tester Vow They’ll Never Nuke The Legislative Filibuster,” National Review, 11/6/2019)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): “I said during my rehiring process last year, I said it would take an awful, awful lot for me to end the filibuster. I don’t think that we ought to be coming in willy-nilly and changing the rules. … I think we ought to keep the rules.” (CNBC, 1/20/2021)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): “I am committed to never voting to change the legislative filibuster.” (Sen. Coons, Congressional Record, S.8009, 12/21/2018)

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): “The filibuster is not in the Constitution nor the original Senate rules, but we have a bicameral system for a reason and this legislative tool serves a critical purpose in ensuring the functioning of our democratic republic. Yes, it sometimes slows the process down, and some have abused or subverted it. But it remains an important part in our system of checks and balances.” (Sen. Reed, Press Release, 4/07/2017)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): “No, I’m not crazy about getting rid of the filibuster.” (“Bernie Sanders Says He’s ‘Not Crazy About Getting Rid Of The Filibuster,’” Huffington Post, 2/19/2019)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): “I’m not particularly in favor of getting rid of the filibuster because that just means majority rule. That’s what happens in the House.” (“Dems Open To Killing Filibuster In Next Congress,” The Hill, 7/18/2019)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I would be reluctant… I think the filibuster has some value in the institution, and I frankly think it … helps protect against an overreaching executive.” (“Dems Open To Killing Filibuster In Next Congress,” The Hill, 7/18/2019)

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): “Well, I think that, you know, that’s a conversation that we have been having in the Senate, both among Democrats and Republicans. I know in the Democratic caucus we’ve had many conversations about it…. I do think that it is pretty harmful when certain laws pass with a simple majority, because then folks in the minority don’t have their voice. And our system is set up so that those in a minority should have a voice…. I would hope that we could get to a 60-vote margin in the Senate, but I’ve only been in the Senate since the nuclear option had been invoked by both sides.” (“A Conversation With Tammy Duckworth,” The New York Times, 7/16/2020)

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D-NM): “Some of us have to think about governing. ... In terms of nuts and bolts, in terms of making this place work better, I don’t think that talk is helpful.” (“If Progressives Want To Nuke The Filibuster, They’re Going To Have To Convince A Bunch Of Democrats First,” Huffington Post, 2/06/2019)

[Sen. Michael] Bennet [D-CO] has sought to stake out the moral high ground as a vocal defender of institutions and norms. He complained that both parties focus too much on raw power. He lamented the descent of American politics into ‘this continuous game of shirts and skins, where you put in your climate policy for two years and they rip it out and then you put in another and they rip it out.’” (“The Daily 202: Decrying Court Packing, Michael Bennet Pleads With Democrats To Care More About Electability,” The Washington Post, 3/18/2019)

  • “Bennet, who edited the most prestigious of the law reviews at Yale and studied American history as an undergraduate, praised the founding fathers for devising a Constitution that created ‘the most elegant mechanisms’ to facilitate decision making among free people…. ‘They believed we would have disagreement, that this was an essential part of living in a democracy, and out of that disagreement would come much more durable and imaginative solutions than any king or tyrant could ever think of…. That’s what those mechanisms are for, and we’re in the process of breaking all of those mechanisms. We should think long and hard about whether or not we want to destroy all that, whether we think that what we should do is live in a world where they have their version of one-party rule for a while and then we substitute it with our version of one-party rule. To me, that seems like a really bad answer.’” (“The Daily 202: Decrying Court Packing, Michael Bennet Pleads With Democrats To Care More About Electability,” The Washington Post, 3/18/2019)


In 2017, 61 Senators, Including 33 Democrats, Urged Senate Leaders To Preserve The Legislative Filibuster

“A bipartisan group of 61 senators sent a letter to Senate leaders Friday urging them to maintain the 60-vote threshold for filibusters involving legislation, which they said is needed to ensure bipartisanship remains a component of passing bills through the chamber…. Many senators are concerned that getting rid of the 60-vote filibuster for legislation would make it so whichever party is in the majority could ram bills through and diminish the Senate’s traditional role of slowing down legislation and finding bipartisan solutions.” (“61 Senators Sign Letter To Preserve Filibuster Rules,” CNN, 4/09/2017)

‘We Are United In Our Determination To Preserve The Ability Of Members To Engage In Extended Debate When Bills Are On The Senate Floor’

61 SENATORS: “We are writing to urge you to support our efforts to preserve existing rules, practices, and traditions as they pertain to the right of Members to engage in extended debate on legislation before the United States Senate. Senators have expressed a variety of opinions about the appropriateness of limiting debate when we are considering judicial and executive branch nominations. Regardless of our past disagreements on that issue, we are united in our determination to preserve the ability of Members to engage in extended debate when bills are on the Senate floor.” (61 Senators, Letter to Sens. McConnell and Schumer, 4/07/2017)

  • Among the letter signers are:
    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
    Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
    Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
    Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
    Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
    Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
    Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
    Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)
    Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
    Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
    Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE)
    Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
    Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
    Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)
    Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
    (Sen. Collins, Press Release, 4/07/2017)


Just Last Year Democrats ‘Happily Used The Filibuster Themselves’ To Twice Block Targeted COVID Relief, A Police Reform Measure, And Pro-Life Legislation

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[W]hen our Republican majority stood on principle and refused to wreck the rules, our Democratic colleagues happily used the filibuster themselves. In some cases, they flat-out blocked legislation, like Senator Tim Scott’s police reform. In many other cases, Democrats did what minority parties always do, and leveraged the existence of the filibuster to influence must-pass legislation long before it got to the floor.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/16/2021)

In February 2020, 42 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. (S.3275, Roll Call Vote #57: Motion rejected 53-44, R 51-2; D 2-41; I 0-1, 2/25/2020)

In February 2020, 41 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. (S.311, Roll Call Vote #58: Motion rejected 56-41; R 53-0; D 3-40; I 0-1, 2/25/2020)

In June 2020, 44 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the JUSTICE Act. (S. 3985, Roll Call Vote #126: Motion rejected 55-45; R 52-1; D 2-43; I 1-1, 6/24/2020)

In September 2020, 46 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the targeted COVID relief bill. (S.178, Roll Call Vote #168: Motion Rejected: R: 52-1; D: 0-44; I: 0-2, 9/10/2020)

In October 2020, 44 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the targeted COVID relief bill. (S. 178, Roll Call Vote #207: 51-44, R 51-0, D 0-42, I 0-2, 10/21/2020)


After Using The Nuclear Option To Eliminate The Filibuster For Nominations, Democrats Expressed Regret Over Their Votes For It: ‘I Do Regret That,’ ‘Wish It Hadn’t Happened,’ ‘Probably The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made’

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “The last time a Democratic Leader was trying to start a ‘nuclear’ exchange, I offered a warning. I said my colleagues would regret it a lot sooner than they think. And just a few years and a few Supreme Court vacancies later, many of our Democratic colleagues said publicly that they did. Touching the hot stove again would yield the same result. But even more dramatic.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/16/2021)

“Sen. Chuck Schumer lamented Tuesday the Democrats’ move to diminish the number of senators needed to confirm Cabinet picks from 60 votes to 51, because the new rule now hurts his party.” (“Schumer: I Wish We Hadn’t Triggered ‘Nuclear Option’” CNN, 1/03/2017)

“Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that she regrets that her party eliminated the filibuster for approving most judicial nominees.” (“Sen. Klobuchar: Democrats Shouldn’t Have Gone ‘Nuclear’ On Judicial Nominees,” The Washington Post, 9/02/2018)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “I would remind people there was a lot of interest in getting rid of the filibuster for judges and for the Supreme Court, and that has not served us well.” (“If Progressives Want To Nuke The Filibuster, They’re Going To Have To Convince A Bunch Of Democrats First,” Huffington Post, 2/06/2019)

“With the Senate GOP poised to hold 52 seats next Congress, some Democrats now say they should have thought twice before making the rules change -- known on Capitol Hill as the ‘nuclear option.’ ‘I do regret that,’ said Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago. ‘I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.’”  (“Senate Dems, Powerless To Stop Trump Nominees, Regret ‘Nuclear Option’ Power Play,” CNN, 12/06/2016)

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): “It’s [court packing] like changing the rules of the Senate. I think it’s a mistake. Probably the biggest mistake I ever made was voting on the rule change on judges.” (“2020 Dems Warm To Expanding Supreme Court,” Politico, 3/18/2019)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): “[I]n 2013, out of desperation, I came to this floor and voted to change the rules so that President Obama could actually get some nominees confirmed, some judges confirmed, and some administrative appointments confirmed. I have said on this floor before that that is the worst vote I have taken as a Senator, and I apologize for that vote. I share some of the responsibility for where we find ourselves today. The majority leader said at that time: ‘You’re going to come to regret this decision.’ And I will say this about him: He was right.” (Sen. Bennet, Congressional Record, S. 2214-15, 4/03/2019)

  • “My question about court packing really got [Sen. Michael] Bennet [D-CO] animated. He believes strongly that Trump won in 2016 as a direct result of McConnell blockading Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and he’s angry that the majority leader went nuclear in 2017 after Democrats filibustered Neil Gorsuch. But he volunteered without prompting that he doesn’t have a totally clean nose. Referring to Harry Reid ending the filibuster for circuit court judges in 2013 … which he supported at the time, Bennet said: ‘We didn’t always follow the rules. We changed the rules. People can decide whose fault it was. There’s plenty of blame to go around. My point is that we owe something much better than this to the American people.’” (“The Daily 202: Decrying Court Packing, Michael Bennet Pleads With Democrats To Care More About Electability,” The Washington Post, 3/18/2019)




Related Issues: Senate Democrats