WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito chastised Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to vote to use the so-called “nuclear option” to change the Senate’s filibuster rules.
Meanwhile, West Virginia's other senator remains in the spotlight as he still seems to be opposed to such a change as well.
“If Democrats make the irresponsible decision to use the nuclear option and end the 60-vote requirement for bills to pass, the majority party, even with the thinnest of margins, would have absolute power and the minority party would have no voice,” Capito (R-W.Va.) said January 5. “This would end any motivation to work in a bipartisan manner on behalf of all Americans.
“The consequences for our nation, and West Virginia, would be devastating, because this change opens the door to passage of the Green New Deal, packing the Supreme Court, and federalizing our elections to name a few.”
Schumer (D-New York) said earlier this week he wants to vote on the change by January 17.
Capito said such a change would erase decades of tradition and procedures.
“If Democrats were successful with doing away with the filibuster, legislative accomplishments could be undone and redone over and over with just one flip of a Senate seat,” Capito said. “That’s a dangerous precedent to set and a reckless way to govern. This move would have disastrous consequences and would fundamentally change our democratic process for years to come.
“In Senator Schumer’s own words from 2005, eliminating the filibuster would ‘make this country into a banana republic, where if you don’t get your way, you change the rules … it will be a doomsday for Democracy if we do.’
“And more recently in 2017, he said that this move would be like ‘acting like you know they’re a cat on the top of a tree and they have to jump off with all the damage that entails.’”
Capito said she always strives to accomplish things in a bipartisan manner.
“We can do so without upending decades of tradition and procedure on behalf of only half of the Senate,” she said. ““This short-sighted power grab is bad for our country, and bad for West Virginia, and I strongly oppose it.”
Also in 2017, Capito and 60 other senators from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to Senate leaders Schumer and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) urging them to preserve the filibuster for legislation.
Those who signed the 2017 letter – 28 Republicans and 32 Democrats – included Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has been the focal point in filibuster talks.
On Tuesday, Manchin again expressed his skepticism of changing the filibuster rules along party lines.
When Democrats had a 55-45 Senator majority in 2013 and used the “nuclear option” to approve executive nominees and lower-level court nominees, Manchin (and two other Democrats) was opposed to those changes as well.
“Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it's very, very difficult,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday. “It's a heavy lift.
“I think the filibuster needs to stay in place, any way shape or form that we can do it.
"I'm talking. I'm not agreeing to any of this. ... I want to talk and see all the options we have open.”
When Manchin met Tuesday with Schumer and other Democrats, he suggested less dynamic rule changes, such as eliminating the 60-vote requirement to start debate.
"That's a rule change I would think Republicans — they've been for that before," Manchin said while remaining steadfast regarding the supermajority before a bill can go to a final vote.
Some Democrats have suggested such a “carve-out” for the voting reform bill that Schumer wants to pass.
“Anytime there's a carve-out, you eat the whole turkey,” Manchin told reporters. “You know we're still having ongoing conversations as far as voting because I think the bedrock of democracy is making sure that you're able to cast a vote.
“Let's just see. Conversations are still ongoing.”