Democratic leadership is calling for getting rid of the filibuster to force their agenda through the Senate, but critics have pointed out that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden have lambasted the idea in the past.
From the Senate floor, Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., exposed Schumer’s hypocrisy and defended the long-established Senate filibuster rules by using Schumer’s own words against him.
“Right now, we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis,” Cotton said. “We are about to step into the abyss. I want to talk for a few minutes why we are on that precipice and why we are looking into that abyss. Let me first ask a fundamental question: What is the crisis that calls for the undoing of two centuries of tradition? … Are … Senators merely doing their jobs as legislators, responding to a generalized public calling for the abolition of the filibuster? Clearly not. It is not the American people at large who are demanding detonation of the nuclear option.”
Cotton went on to point out a “small band of radicals are pushing this idea even though there is bipartisan opposition.
“[T]he nuclear option is being pushed largely by the radioactive rhetoric of a small band of radicals who hold in their hands the political fortunes of the President,” he said. “Constitutional scholars will tell us that the reason we have these rules in the Senate—unlimited debate, two-thirds to change the rules, the idea that 60 have to close off debate—is embodied in the spirit and rule of the Constitution. … That is what the Constitution is all about, and we all know it.
It turns out Cotton’s speech is actually quoting words once spoken by Schumer himself. He kept quoting Schumer before exposing the truth.
“It is the Senate where the Founding Fathers established a repository of checks and balances. It is not like the House of Representatives where the majority leader or the Speaker can snap his fingers and get what he wants. … On important issues, the Founding Fathers wanted—and they were correct in my judgment—that the slimmest majority should not always govern. … The Senate is not a majoritarian body.
“The bottom line is very simple: the ideologues in the Senate want to turn what the Founding Fathers called the cooling saucer of democracy into the rubber stamp of dictatorship. … They want to make this country into a banana republic where if you don’t get your way, you change the rules! Are we going to let them? It will be a doomsday for democracy if we do.
“I, for one, hope and pray that it will not come to this. But I assure my colleagues, at least speaking for this Senator … I will do everything I can to prevent the nuclear option from being invoked not for the sake of myself or my party but for the sake of this great Republic and its traditions.”
Cotton then revealed that his entire speech until that point was quoting Schumer.
“Those are powerful words—but they’re not mine,” Cotton said. “Every word of my speech today was originally spoken by my esteemed colleague, the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer. Senator Schumer spoke so eloquently in defense of the Senate’s rules, customs, and traditions when the fortunes of his party looked a little different.
“My, how times have changed. Now it’s Senator Schumer’s fingers that are hovering over the nuclear button, ready to destroy the filibuster for partisan advantage.
“Think about it—the narrowest majority in Senate history wants to break the Senate rules to control how voters in every state elect senators. Could there be a better argument to preserve the Senate’s rules, customs, and traditions?
“Before it’s too late, let us reflect on the wise and eloquent words of Senator Schumer, words that are as true today as they were when he spoke them. Even if Senator Schumer is singing a different tune today.”