Senate Democrats are falling back in love with the filibuster.
After eight years of complaining about obstructionism, the Senate’s new Democratic minority is embracing some of the same tools Republicans had wielded so skillfully to jam the legislative machinery. On Tuesday, Democrats used the filibuster to stop a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security — and roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration policies — dead in its tracks.
Democrats’ relationship with the filibuster had been on the rocks when they ran the Senate, a time when the GOP regularly used the procedural weapon to disrupt the majority’s agenda. Democrats responded by gutting the filibuster on nominations, making “Republican obstruction” a go-to explanation for the Senate’s gridlock and complaining bitterly when the GOP minority blocked debate from even opening on bills.
Then came Tuesday’s 51-48 vote blocking the DHS bill. This was the first time a Democratic minority had blocked a bill from coming to the floor for debate since Aug. 3, 2006, when Democrats stifled legislation that would have raised the minimum wage and decreased the estate tax.
Casual Senate watchers could be forgiven for thinking that Democrats and Republicans had simply exchanged talking points after the 2014 election. Now in the majority, Republicans are the ones accusing the minority of keeping the Senate from getting things done.You heard it here first: the parties have flipped before.