Here’s some words Barrack Obama once had about the filibuster as a senator himself.
During his four years in the Senate, for example, Barack Obama, voted two dozen times to filibuster bills he opposed. He voted to filibuster the National Defense Authorization Act in 2005, the Securing America’s Borders Act in 2006, and the FISA Amendments Act in 2008.
He also voted to filibuster bills to repeal the federal estate tax, to ease the regulation of leases for oil and gas exploration on federal lands, and to prohibit taking a minor across state lines to get an abortion.
When Republicans, then in the majority, considered terminating the filibuster in 2005, Obama defended it not as a partisan political weapon, but as a vital part of the legislative process. He encouraged his Senate colleagues to rise above the “ends justify the means” mentality that might lead to institutional changes with long-term implications just to gain some short-term political victories.
Every senator, Obama said, “knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster … the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.”
One party, “be it Republican or Democrat,” should not be able to “change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet,” he said.
“That’s easy for you to say” is a tempting response since, at the time, Democrats were in the minority and using the filibuster to block both legislation and nominations. Talk, after all, is no cheaper anywhere than it is in Washington, D.C.
But Obama not only said that extended debate should not be limited then, but told senators that “one day Democrats will be in the majority again” and abolishing extended debate “will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority.”
Suggesting that his defense of the filibuster was more about principle than crass politics, Obama took the position that Democrats should not try to limit extended debate the next time they were in the majority.