- - Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Certain Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, and even a few incumbents, are so frustrated by the reflexive Democratic obstruction of President Trump’s legislative agenda they want to abolish the filibuster.

Sen. Luther Strange, running hard to retain the Senate seat for Alabama he received by gubernatorial appointment when Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become attorney general, is one of the abolitionists. “Conversations with the president have led me to the conclusion that changing the filibuster rule is the only way we will be able to build the border wall, rein in sanctuary cities, defund Planned Parenthood, and give the American people real tax relief,” says Mr. Strange, who must defeat a primary challenge Sept. 26 to keep his seat.

Mr. Strange wanted to keep the venerable filibuster rule, which effectively requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass any legislation, until he faced a primary opponent, Roy Moore, who is eager to eliminate the filibuster. President Trump wants to abolish the filibuster to easier enact his agenda, and Mr. Trump carried Alabama by 28 points. Politicians, after all, are driven by fear.

The president went on an anti-filibuster rant in August after the repeal of Obamacare stalled in the Senate. “If the Senate Democrats ever got the chance, they would switch to a 51[-vote] majority vote in first minute,” Mr. Trump tweeted in his trademark capital letters and exclamation points. “They are laughing at R’s. MAKE CHANGE!”

Harry Reid, the former Democratic senator from Nevada, set off the filibuster controversy four years ago when he invoked the “nuclear option” to pack the federal bench with President Obama’s judges recruited from the leftmost edge of the spectrum. The Democratic senators, then in the majority, quickly eliminated the filibuster for all judicial nominees short of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It turned out to be a shortsighted decision. When the Republicans regained the Senate in 2014 and Donald Trump won the White House two years later, the Republicans used the nuclear option to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by a simple majority.

Now certain Republicans want to change Senate rules again to enact President Trump’s agenda by a simple majority, eliminating the Democratic roadblock. But however tempting, this would be shortsighted, too. As unlikely a prospect as it might seem to Republicans, the Democrats will eventually take back the Senate. Nothing recedes like success, even majorities in the Senate.

When that happens — not next year, but some year down the road — worms will turn. If there is neither a Republican majority in the House of Representatives nor a Republican president in the White House, there will be nothing to stand in the way of the mischief the Democrats will impose on the republic.

Nothing would stand against the left-wing wish list, single-payer health care, a blank check for Planned Parenthood and government-paid abortions for all, cap-and-trade regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions that Mr. Obama himself says would enable electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket,” and enactment of the full LGBT agenda, including free surgery and hormone treatments for transgenders in the military ranks. A filibuster then would look pretty good. The rule looks prudent now.

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