Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) defended the filibuster this evening in remarks to the press, and he decried a threat by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to invoke the so-called nuclear option of changing the Senate rules to effectively abolish the ability of Senators to filibuster confirmation votes on executive-branch appointments.
The Utah Republican pointed out that “it was just a few years ago that the Majority Leader was arguing for those rights himself, saying the Senate would be destroyed if we went to a nuclear option, which nobody did. It has never been done before, and frankly, it shouldn’t be done now.” He argued that more is at stake than the fate of a few executive appointees:
I’ve been in both the majority and the minority a number of times. And I have to tell you I’d fight to my death for the right — rights of the minority, because that’s one way that the United States Senate is the most important legislative body in the world. Right now, if we go the route that the Majority Leader and the Democrats are going, it’s going to be a very destructive thing. Now they’ll say, “Well, they’re limiting it just to certain executive-branch people.” Once you start down that road and open what Senator Reid has characterized as the Pandora’s box, then there’s no end to what one side or the other can do.
Hatch also criticized his Democratic colleagues for artificially inflating the number of GOP “filibusters” in order to boost support for the rules change:
The fact of the matter is they bring up a bill, they file cloture immediately, even though they know that nobody’s filibustering, accuse us of filibustering — and most all of them go through without any filibuster or any real problem — and in the process count what really aren’t filibusters [as] filibusters.