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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit

Longtime Washington official Rufus Miles coined a memorable maxim:  "Where you stand depends on where you sit."  This notion applies most strongly to opinions on procedure.

A previous post noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) defended the filibuster when he was in the minority, but wants to curb it now that he is in the majority.  As Chris Cillizza points out at The Washington Post, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has flipped in the opposite direction:
Then there was McConnell in 2005, defending the idea of changing the rules.

McConnell made virtually the same argument then that Reid is making now. He cited the Constitution as laying out the ability to change Senate rules by a simple majority. He noted that the rules of the Senate have been changed many times in the past. He derided the “incredulous protestations” of those who opposed such a move.
The lesson? How you feel about the filibuster depend almost entirely on whether you are in the majority or the minority. It’s either blockading for the sake of blockading that leads to gridlock or an important tool that allows the minority to be heard and without which the Senate will lose its identity.