BEING MUCH IN THE NEWS, ABLE TO CAUSE MEN TO GNASH TEETH, PULL HAIR, AND YET STILL COMMIT DETESTABLE ACTS OF CHILDISH PARTISANSHIP
n. — closure, esp. the formal end to a debate in a political assembly
fm. pure, unfiltered French, though cloture itself is a variant on the Latin claustrum, meaning enclosure or barrier. [It was] first applied in a political context to the French Assembly, and then adopted in the British House of Commons.
first published. 1871
inspiration. the news of the day, as a cloture motion on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is the specific vote Senate Democrats will filibuster today. Republicans have already confirmed they will counter with parliamentary maneuvers to change Senate rules: “the nuclear option.” The new rules would allow a simple majority to end debate, meaning Republicans—indeed, all majority parties in future Senates—need no bipartisan support to move a nominee, no matter how radical or distasteful to the other side, to a majority-rules vote for confirmation.
In other words, the end of all cooperation…
…not that we were seeing much cooperation to begin with.
Republicans have lamented the arbitrary rules change. Senators Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Lindsay Graham (S.C.) sounded off this week on the obvious threat it poses to a smooth-functioning upper house. They failed to mention that Senate functions haven’t been all that smooth lately, what with Mitch McConnell’s unprecedented blanket use of the filibuster against Obama executive appointees. Democrats responded to the backlog in 2003 with the nuclear option for all but Supreme Court nominees, meaning the Republicans can now operate under the the “well, you guys did it first” property of American politics, blaming Democrats for a self-destructive choice they say they hate to make.
Of course, with their treatment of Merrick Garland, McConnell and the Republicans established that the Senate can refuse to acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Court nominee indefinitely—useful if the majority and president come from different parties. In doing so, the possibility of logic, civility, and basic adult behavior may already be gone from Senate procedure. Just, with today’s votes, they write it into the rulebook.
It’s exactly as we feared. No grown ups in Washington. Let us celebrate the disappointment.