More on Biden's Criticism of the Filibuster.

Earlier, we mentioned that Vice President Joe Biden had some less than nice things to say about the filibuster, and tried to remind him that he's actually a relatively important government official who can do something about the problem.

However, the accusations of hypocrisy that would accompany such a push can be foreseen with a look at some quotes sent my way by Chuck Thies. In a 2005 New Yorker article during the debate over filibustering President George W. Bush's judicial nominations, then-Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Biden defended the filibuster as part of the Senate's character. During the same period, he made similar arguments in a floor speech:

Folks who want to see this change want to eliminate one of the procedural mechanisms designed for the express purpose of guaranteeing individual rights, and they also have a consequence, and would undermine the protections of a minority point of view in the heat of majority excess. We have been through these periods before in American history but never, to the best of my knowledge, has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body.

I don't agree with Biden about this, nor do a lot of progressives who weren't politicians in 2005. Just because Biden has followed his political interest doesn't lessen the many strong arguments in favor of procedural reform in the Senate. But the politics will be dicey as Republicans inevitably attack Democrats for hypocrisy (notwithstanding their own flip-flop on the subject since 2005). Looking at the fight this way makes me think that a grand bargain approach, like that advocated by TAP Editor Mark Schmitt, is probably the best way to effectively end the filibuster, or return it to its original purpose.

-- Tim Fernholz

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