Republicans may have (so far) botched their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, but they made good on their promise to push Neil Gorsuch through to his Supreme Court confirmation. On Thursday, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell voted to invoke the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster for nominees to the highest court in the land.
The vote effectively puts the confirmation out of Democrats’ hands; unless something goes drastically wrong, McConnell and the Republicans can easily vote to confirm Gorsuch on Friday and this sordid saga will come to an end.
Well, in one way.
In another way, there is the integrity of the Senate itself.
Did Republicans pay too big a price for the privilege of confirming Gorsuch? Will the end of the filibuster come back to haunt us when Democrats take control of the Senate? Those are the questions on the minds of many Republicans, and they are the chief argument from Democrats who vow to make the GOP pay for their maneuvering.
Is this a real concern? Yes and no. Yes, there will probably come a day that Democrats will turn the tables. No, McConnell did not damage the integrity of Congress’s upper chamber.
If damage was done, it was done by the Democrats. Neil Gorsuch has all the hallmarks of a mainstream, qualified Supreme Court nominee, and there is no reason he should have been filibustered to begin with. Filibusters have their place, but they should not allow the minority party to hijack the Senate on a partisan matter. There is no constitutional concern when it comes to Gorsuch. This was a political temper tantrum, and it needed to be squashed.
It may, in fact, be time for Republicans to get rid of the filibuster altogether. If it can be used in this way – where the minority party can simply lock hands and refuse to vote – then it has outlived its usefulness. The American people have spoken, and the current makeup of the Senate is a result of our collective voices. We determined that Republicans should control the Senate, and so it should be in practice.
By moving to a simple majority vote in the Senate, Republicans would answer one of America’s biggest concerns in recent years: Partisan gridlock in Washington. Things would start getting done.
Of course, along with that freedom, Republicans would also have to accept responsibility. Without Democrats to blame their woes on, they would have to answer for their decisions. And so it would be for the Dems if they were to take power again.
It comes down to accountability, which we need more of in our politics.
McConnell chose a bold path on this confirmation. If it’s a glimpse of the future, then perhaps the election of Donald Trump is finally giving Republicans their spine back.