GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas highlighted Wednesday the hypocrisy of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s push to suspend the filibuster rule by incorporating the New Yorker’s past impassioned statements against such a move.
“Right now we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. We’re about to step into the abyss,” Cotton began from the Senate floor quoting from a 2005 speech by Schumer, when the issue of ending the filibuster in relation to judicial appointments was being considered while the Republicans were in the majority.
“What is the crisis that calls for the undoing of two centuries of tradition? Are senators merely doing their jobs as legislators?” Cotton asked.
The senator said it was not the American people who are calling for this rule change, still invoking Schumer’s past argument.
“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,” Cotton continued.
“It is the Senate where the founding fathers established a repository of checks and balances,” he said.
“They were correct, in my judgment, that the slimest majority should not always govern. The Senate is not a majoritarian body,” Cotton added, still quoting from Schumer’s 2005 remarks.
🚨 BREAKING: Chuck Schumer* speaks on the Senate floor in defense of the filibuster.
*Senator Cotton’s speech consisted entirely of Senator Schumer’s past statements. pic.twitter.com/zGfbpr7G5t
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 12, 2022
By way of comparison, the Republicans held a 55 to 45 majority in 2005, while the current break down in the Senate is 50 to 50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, casting the tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the majority.
So Schumer’s observation about slim majorities then would seem even more applicable now.
“The ideologues in the Senate want to turn what the founding fathers call the cooling saucer of democracy into a rubber stamp of dictatorship,” Cotton said, still employing the majority leader’s past statements.
In 2005, Democrat Chuck Schumer said eliminating the filibuster would “be a doomsday for Democracy.” pic.twitter.com/SInO8p9bSd
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 3, 2022
“They want to make this country into a banana republic, where if you don’t get your way you change the rules,” he added. “Are we going to let them? It will be a doomsday for democracy if we do.”
Cotton then revealed everything he had just said originally came from Schumer’s own mouth.
“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?” Cotton said.
The senator recounted on the Fox News program “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday morning, “It was the easiest speech I’ve ever given in my time in politics. I didn’t have to write a single word of it. I just repeated what Chuck Schumer said over the years.”
“If you’re looking for integrity and principled stands despite shifting partisan winds, Chuck Schumer is probably not the politician you want to look to,” Cotton added.
“[W]hat Republicans will do this week is to defend our constitution, defend our customs, to protect the voices of all Americans in our government.”
“What republicans will do this week is defend our Constitution, defend our customs to protect the voices of all Americans in our government.” @SenTomCotton on the importance of preserving the Senate filibuster @BillHemmer @DanaPerino pic.twitter.com/qMv3ZL6WDK
— America’s Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) January 13, 2022
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Wednesday night that the House would vote this week on bills that would federalize elections by requiring automatic voter registration, same-day registration, no excuse mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes, early voting and loosening Voter ID requirements in states that require identification to vote, NBC News reported.
Additionally, the legislation would allow convicted felons to vote after being released from prison.
Further, it would make it a federal crime to “harass” election officials, backed by a fine of up to $100,000 and five years in jail, which the Foundation for Government Accountability argued could discourage party poll watchers from doing their job.
Politico reported that Schumer will bring the legislation the House passes to the Senate floor in coming days, forcing a vote on whether to end debate.
“The Senate will finally debate voting rights legislation, and then every senator will be faced with a choice of whether or not to pass the legislation to protect our democracy,” Schumer wrote in a memo, according to the outlet.
Democratic Sens. Krysten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia support voting rights legislation but have stood firm in their opposition to changing the filibuster rule in order to pass it.