After eight years of using the filibuster against President Obama, Republicans now want to get rid of it

The GOP has control of both houses of Congress and wants nothing to get in the way of a Trump agenda

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 10, 2016 1:47PM (EST)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, talks with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, right, during the National Governors Association meeting, Friday, July 15, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa.  (AP)
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, talks with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, right, during the National Governors Association meeting, Friday, July 15, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP)

After Republicans spent eight years using filibusters and cloture votes to obstruct President Barack Obama's agenda, prominent Republicans now are advocating for eliminating it.

"I firmly believe that he wants to work; he wants to get things done," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told radio host Charlie Sykes of WTMJ in Milwaukee, in reference to an earlier conversation he had had with President-elect Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence. "He wants to be able to say we won and that best way to do that is to allow Paul [Ryan] to help lead the way in the House. I think the Senate, people like Ron Johnson for sure, Ron wants to help Paul in that regard. My biggest is concern that they not allow, some of these arcane rules that have nothing to with the Constitution."

Walker went on to complain that if Democrats used the filibuster to thwart Trump's agenda, it would be unfair to the American people who voted for him.

"To me, I think that would really upset the electorate [if] the people who not only elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence but the people who elected Ron here and elected other members of the House and the Senate," Walker complained. "You cannot use, they cannot use inside-the-ballpark Washington procedural reason to justify why things don't happen. They've got to get things done and as I said frequently here in this state and continue to, the best time to do them is early."

The irony in Walker's position, of course, is that Republicans have used the filibuster to an unprecedented degree during Obama's presidency. By 2013 Republicans had made sure that more of Obama's executive nominees had been filibustered to a far greater extent than those of his predecessor, with Texas Sen. John Cornyn bragging, "There is a 60-vote threshold for every nomination." (Sixty votes is the number of votes required to break a filibuster.) Republicans have also blocked Obama's legislation at more than twice the rate of any previous Congress.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Donald Trump Elections 2016 Filibuster President Donald Trump Republicans Senate