For most of the Obama Presidency many good pieces of legislation either languished in the Senate or had to be substantially changed as Democrats, despite holding a majority, needed 60 votes to get a bill passed. This is all because the Democrats feared that the Republicans would filibuster any good legislation. This was a fear based in fact as Republicans from Ted Cruz on down would stand on the Senate floor for hours or days to keep legislation bottled up. This affected gun regulation, immigration reform, budget deals and numerous other important subjects.
Now the Republicans control the Senate and the House and will try and pass a radical legislative agenda. How can Democrats put the brakes on it? Filibuster. It is time to give the Republicans a dose of their own medicine. Force them to get 60 votes to pass legislation that undoes Obamacare, makes regressive changes in immigration or gun policy or proposes an unjust budget.
With the House now under firmer control of the far right, the only chance of getting reasonable legislation passed is for the Senate to bring more progressive legislation to conference. The filibuster threat is a way to force the Republicans to compromise and bring a product that reflects the views of both parties out of the Senate. Democrats will have also remain strong when Republicans try and accuse them of causing legislative gridlock. The public needs to be reminded that Republicans have been doing this these past six years to block or water down whatever the Democrats proposed.
I urge this tactic with the real hope that it will not be necessary. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have both talked a good game of compromise with Democrats and the president and wanting to get things done. However, their past tactics would indicate this talk to be hollow. We all remember McConnell saying that it was more important to make Obama a one-term president than to get anything done. So if they don't walk the walk, Democrats need to be ready to use every tool at their arsenal to ensure that America doesn't go backwards. It's heartening that Harry Reid and his colleagues are already not shy about implementing the 60-vote standard, we can only hope they have the strength to follow through.