Filibuster Vote Makes This a Momentous Congress

Ezra Klein says it was necessary in age of polarization, but not all agree
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2013 4:59 PM CST
From left, Sen. Charles Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin talk about the filibuster vote.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Today's vote in the Senate to curb the use of the filibuster has turned what was shaping up to be an "inconsequential" Congress into exactly the opposite, writes Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. "Indeed, this might prove to be one of the most significant congresses in modern times," he argues. "Today, the political system changed its rules to work more smoothly in an age of sharply polarized parties." If our political system is to avoid "complete dysfunction," we'll need more changes like it. Speaking of polarized parties, the move is generally getting rave reviews on the left and slams on the right:

  • Boo: "If Republicans went nuclear first in order to 'ram through right-wing judges,' how would breaking the rules have played in the media?" tweeted Matt Lewis.
  • Blame Mitch: "Any claim that the Senate’s current minority is simply following past practices is not credible," writes Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress. "The filibuster existed before the Age of McConnell, but McConnell made them commonplace." (He's got a chart to make the point.)
  • Risky precedent: Democrats allowed the filibuster to remain in effect for legislation and Supreme Court nominees, notes Allahpundit at Hot Air. "The possibility of a Republican president and a Republican Senate pushing through pro-life justices is too horrifying to the left for them to risk changing the rules on SCOTUS appointments too." Of course, now that the precedent of weakening the filibuster has been set, that might change, too.
  • Good move: "There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously," write the editors at the New York Times. "Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body."
(Read more filibuster stories.)

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