As things stand, the Senate has already eliminated filibusters on the budget, all judicial nominees, and all executive-branch nominees. Donald Trump, however, argued today that this isn’t quite good enough: he wants filibusters to be eliminated altogether, on everything.
“The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!”
It’s an important topic, so let’s unpack this a bit.
1. We already know that Senate Republicans will not do this, at least not anytime soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), among other GOP leaders, has said in no uncertain terms that the legislative filibuster isn’t going away, the president’s pleas notwithstanding.
2. Trump, who’s never demonstrated an even rudimentary understanding of the legislative process, may not appreciate these details, but both health care and tax cuts are being pursued through the reconciliation process – which means they already can’t be filibustered. If filibusters were eliminated entirely, it might be a little easier to pass these priorities, but Democratic opposition is not the source of the White House’s problem.
3. The president is apparently convinced that Democrats would scrap all filibusters, but it’s worth remembering that Dems had the Senate majority for eight years – January 2007 to December 2014 – and did not do what Trump claims.
So why is Trump pushing such an obviously deceptive message? Probably because he’s laying the groundwork for failure.
I think NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin’s response to this rings largely true: “Trump knows he only needs 51 votes for health care. But he’s made clear repeatedly that he wants to blame Democrats if things go wrong.”
It’s a risky proposition to assume what the president knows – on this or any topic –but I heartily agree that Trump has an incentive to create excuses for failure, without regard for logic or reason.
Remember, he’s spent months arguing that Democratic obstructionism is the reason his administration is still largely unpopulated, which is demonstrably ridiculous.
It’s far too early for anyone on the left to celebrate, but there’s a real chance that Republicans will come up short on health care and tax reform. Trump, at least on some level, recognizes the possibility and is already eager to blame Democrats if his unpopular agenda is derailed.
That wouldn’t make any sense, but that’s never stopped him before.