Senate Democrats Embrace Filibuster

In the budget battle that threatens to shut down government, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has embraced the filibuster as a tool to preserve government funding for Planned Parenthood. This is the same Senator Schumer who, as recently as January, had denounced the filibuster as a tool to “grind the Senate to a halt.”

The Note reports that the Democratic Caucus has pledged to stop Republicans from defunding Planned Parenthood as part of a continuing resolution.

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports:  The debate over policy riders — amendments to the budget bill that impose significant changes to government priorities — may force a shutdown, even if both sides agree on a final number of overall cuts. Senate Democrats today reiterated a pledge to filibuster any budget deal that includes a rider eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood. “The dangerous, ideological cuts that passed through the House are never, never, never going to pass the Senate,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told a cheering crowd of Planned Parenthood supporters dressed in pink at a rally outside the capitol. 

This is the same Democratic caucus that pledged to remove the filibuster from the Senate rule book a mere three months ago.  They now want to use the filibuster rule they proclaimed “unconstitutional” to block a bill if it defunds Planned Parenthood.  This seems like hypocrisy. 

On January 5, 2011, Senator Schumer said during the debate over filibuster reform that the filibuster should not be used as a way for Senators to stop consideration of a measure that has majority support.

The unprecedented threat of a filibuster–not even the actual use of the filibuster–has prevented debate with such frequency that extended deliberation is a dying commodity. Make no mistake about it, the everyday threat of the filibuster does not ensure debate, it restricts it. Reforming the rules in a thoughtful way would clear the way for more legislating, not less. Filibusters provide a minority of Senators a way to make their voices heard, but they should not provide a way for a minority of Senators or even a single Senator to grind the Senate to a halt regardless of whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.

The filibuster is clearly constitutional. And clearly, Senate Democrats believe in using the filibuster to shape legislation. Indeed, to keep taxpayers subsidizing Planned Parenthood, Schumer & Co. are willing not just “grind the Senate to a halt,” but to shut down the entire government.