The filibuster, which for most of its history was mainly a tool for oppressing black people by stopping anti-lynching laws and civil rights legislation, has now turned into a tool for routine legislative nihilism. The latest example is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) threatening to filibuster the debt limit so it requires 60 votes. From The Hill:
Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Hill he will filibuster the bill to require 60 votes but signaled he could allow a Wednesday vote.
“Any vote on the debt ceiling has to be subject to a 60-vote threshold,” Cruz said. “Under no circumstances will I consent to a 50-vote threshold.”
“I think it is a terrible idea to rise the debt ceiling while providing no structural reforms to the out-of-control spending,” he added.
This is just ridiculous on so many levels. The debt limit is about paying for the appropriations that Congress already approved. It shouldn’t even exist because it serves no real function except creating the potential for needless damage to the economy. The Constitution clearly intended for routine business in the Senate using a simple majority vote.
More importantly, there is no way this can even accomplish anything. Lets say Cruz actually stopped the bill by demanding 60 votes, then what? House Republicans already proved they can’t get a majority for any other proposal. The best case scenario is it only drags out stupid issue for a few extra weeks possibly spooking the markets. Cruz is creating problems just to prove he can create problems.
Even the strongest defenders of the filibuster admit it only works if everyone in the Senate behaves responsibly. Cruz has made sure that is not happening. This stupid relic needs to be eliminate so the Senate can operate like basically every other legislative chamber in the Western world.
Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license