Filibuster

The Rules That Stopped Elizabeth Warren Are Waiting for Donald Trump, Too
Senate norms have never been more important in our democracy

Under Senate rules, President Donald Trump’s proposals will have to get through the chamber based on the merits of his policies, not the volume of his arguments, Murphy writes. Senators are seen here at the president’s inauguration last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rule 19 had its close-up this week, didn’t it? To be specific, Section 3 of Rule 19, did, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed Sen. Elizabeth Warren that she had “impugned the motives and conduct” of her fellow senator, Jeff Sessions, when she read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written about him many years ago.

When Warren was told, “The senator shall take her seat,” she took the Coretta Scott King letter, marched a few feet off the Senate floor, and took a different seat in front of a Facebook Live feed that went out to millions. The standoff launched a battle cry for any woman who has ever felt marginalized, belittled or silenced — which, by the way, is nearly all of us. A thousand hashtags bloomed. #SheWasWarned #ShePersisted #LetLizSpeak. You get the picture.

Hey (Rule) 19! Conservatives Push Senate Crackdown
Any move to control floor will likely further poison the well

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes the rounds for television news interviews in the Russell Rotunda on Wednesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision the previous night to invoke a rule to silence her during a debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate rule that directed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to stop talking could be deployed by Republicans to thwart a Democratic filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. But such a move could make the Senate environment even more toxic, if that’s possible.

Democrats panned the move by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans on Tuesday night to require Warren, the liberal icon from Massachusetts, to take her seat for violating the chamber’s decorum, specifically Rule 19.

GOP Seeks a Safe Space From the Words of Coretta Scott King
Echoes of Trump in Senate Republicans’ silencing of Elizabeth Warren

Coretta Scott King speaking at the reception for the unveiling of Rosa Parks' bust sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., in 1991. (Courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

For a party and an administration that ran on being tough guys, afraid of nothing and no one, and disdainful of “PC culture,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, Republicans are, like President Donald Trump, proving to be poster boys (and, yes, the crew is testosterone-heavy) for the perpetually offended, perfect pictures of bullies who crumble when one of their targets dares talk back.

Twitter outrage over the latest “Saturday Night Live” parodies — of Trump and, this past week, Press Secretary Sean Spicer — are becoming weekly routines, expected and easy to dismiss. It’s just jokes, folks, no need to get so worked up. And piling partisan political significance onto the Super Bowl — the teams, commercials and half-time entertainment — is more than one football game can bear.

Democrats in a Dilemma Over Trump's Court Nominee
Senate Democrats will get a lot of advice about how to handle President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court — and it appears they need it.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court Justice nominee, meets with North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in her Hart building office on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There’s pressure from liberal advocacy groups and the party’s energized base for Democrats to pull out all the stops in an attempt to block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation. Not only do those interests have concerns about his approach to abortion rights and environmental law, but they thirst for revenge for Republicans’ obstruction of former President Barack Obama’s nominee for the same seat.

Some moderate legal and political commentators, meanwhile, have urged Democrats to wait for another potential Supreme Court nominee to launch an all-out confirmation war — a possibility during the Trump administration since two justices are in their 80s. Gorsuch would replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, so his elevation from a federal appeals court in Denver wouldn’t shift the ideological balance of the high court anyway.

Don‘t Expect the Senate to Back Away From the Brink
Ending all filibusters seems inevitable, Gorsuch's confirmation the likely ‘nuclear’ spark

It may not be a question of if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will use the “nuclear option” to break a legislative deadlock, but when, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nuclear winter is coming. 

Perhaps it won’t arrive during this Supreme Court showdown. But then the odds will approach metaphysical certainty with the next vacancy on the court, unless deadlock on a premier piece of legislation happens first.

Who’s in Charge in Trump’s Washington?
All three branches of government are answerable to the Constitution

Just like the president and members of Congress, federal employees are responsible to the Constitution, Murphy writes. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Did you know that the organizational chart for the federal government is the only one you’ll ever see that doesn’t have a person or group of people in the top box? Instead, the three branches of government, including President Donald Trump’s executive branch, sit equidistant from each other on a horizontal row below the top box. And inside the top box is the Constitution.

When a federal employee sent me the org chart during the 2016 campaign, I thought of it mostly as a piece of quirky trivia — hey, look, nobody’s in charge! But I’ve thought about that chart again and again in the last week as people in the federal government have either joined forces with the White House or acted out against it in ways we’ve never seen before.

Defeat or Pyrrhic Victory? The Democrats’ Dismal Choices on Gorsuch
Part of the blame — dismal Democratic candidates in 2016

President Donald Trump and Judge Neil Gorsuch in the East Room of the White House. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the seat left vacant with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In the best of all possible worlds, Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch would both soon grace the Supreme Court. But, alas, someone like Henry Clay is no longer in Congress to negotiate the Compromise of 2017.

So, dispirited Democrats are left with their choice of frustrating outcomes as they rage against the success of Mitch McConnell’s scorched-earth strategy to deprive Garland of a vote all through 2016.

New Poll Shows Unease With ‘Nuclear Option’ for Supreme Court Pick
Survey conducted largely before Trump announced his choice

Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge — and now Supreme Court nominee — Neil Gorsuch delivers prepared remarks before a group of attorneys in Denver in January. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)

A new poll commissioned by progressive groups has found that nearly seven in 10 voters say they’re against using the “nuclear option” to confirm a Supreme Court justice.

The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for NARAL, Every Voice and End Citizens United, and shared first with Roll Call. It asked about the Senate Democrats’ insistence that the current nominee be confirmed with a supermajority of at least 60 votes. 

Hawkish Trump on Iran: ‘Nothing’s Off the Table’
White House looks for ‘Trump-state Democrats’ to back SCOTUS pick

President Donald Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence swears in Rex Tillerson as secretary of State. Holding the Bible is Tillerson’s wife, Renda St. Clair. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump continued touting his hard-nosed foreign policy on Thursday, “formally” telling Iran it is on notice before signaling he might consider military force against the country. 

The new commander in chief, twice in just seven hours, sent a message to Tehran just a day after his national security adviser put Iran “on notice.” Trump was asked by a reporter when a press pool was allowed into a meeting with Harley-Davidson executives if he has ruled out military force against Iran.

Democratic Class of 2018 Key to Gorsuch Supreme Court Fight
Manchin the first Democrat to meet Trump’s nominee

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, right, meets in his office with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Joe Manchin III on Wednesday became the first Democrat to meet with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, as Republicans began the long quest for Democratic votes for the conservative judge from Colorado.

When asked if Gorsuch should need 60 senators to support his confirmation, as he would if Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and other Democrats follow through on a filibuster threat, Manchin said nominees should always need bipartisan backing, including for the president’s Cabinet and lower courts.