Republican senators aren’t ready to get rid of the filibuster. Not yet, at least.
Even as outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) warned Republicans in October that Democrats might nuke the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees if Republicans held them up under a Democratic president, Republicans seem less willing to go there.
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, several Republicans told reporters that the filibuster was still a valuable tool for the minority even if it slowed things down in the Senate.
“I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster. It’s the only way to protect the minority, and we’ve been in the minority a lot more than we’ve been in the majority,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told the Huffington Post. “It’s just a great, great protection for the minority.”
Other Republicans agreed.
“I hope we don’t have to go down that road,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “First of all a legislative filibuster I would never agree to change that. The bottom line is I just ask Democrats to do what I did. Have challenging hearings, give qualified people a vote. I voted for Sotomayer and Kagan because I thought they were qualified even though I wouldn’t have picked ’em.”
“I would not like to turn this Senate into the House any more than we’ve done,” Graham added.
In 2013, Reid changed the filibuster rules on all presidential nominees including cabinet officials and lower judges. He left it in place, however, for the Supreme Court.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) didn’t want to speculate on the future of the filibuster, but hoped Democrats would not unilaterally block Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.
“I think we should assume there won’t be any funny business,” Blunt said. “And, be thankful that Harry Reid established a precedent for almost every nomination that now a Republican Congress with 51 votes can get people into these jobs with a Republican President quicker than has been the case in decades. I don’t think Harry Reid did it with necessarily good purpose, but for the new administration, and for this Congress it will produce a good result.”