Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Tuesday dismantled the Democrats’ anti-filibuster claims, where they claim it is a product of the Jim Crow era, after using it multiple times over the years to stop Republican legislation.
Cotton on the Senate floor said that he wants to remind his “friends” on the other side of the aisle how many times they have previously used the filibuster. Cotton explained the Democrats under former President Donald Trump had repeatedly stopped voting on various bills “hundreds of times.”
He added, in the past, some of his Democrat “friends” had “simply voted not even to have a debate” for bills like coronavirus relief package, which “could have gotten aid to families and businesses when they needed it.” But, instead, the Democrats filibustered that bill until after the election.
“They blocked even a debate, even a debate on policing reforms last summer that might have helped provide police departments across the country with additional financial support or training resources,” he also explained. Cotton said he could list numerous bills that the Democrats blocked.
“Yet today, the Democrats act as if it’s some terrible affront that we’re not even going to have a debate on a bill that would be one of the biggest power grabs by Washington in the history of our democracy,” Cotton continued to say. “So then you have a lot of democrats who are complaining that the senate rules and customs, the filibuster has to go. They say it’s a racist relic of the Jim Crow era.”
Again in the middle of his floor speech, the senator wanted to remind the Democrats, they “over the years used the filibuster to block civil rights progress.”
During his speech, Cotton added into the record a letter from April 2017 that was authored by Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons (DE), signed by over 60 senators, which had urged then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and then-Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “to preserve the existing rules, practices, and traditions as they pertain to rights and members to engage in extended debate on legislation.”
Cotton read part of the letter which noted, “that these rules have changed on our executive calendar when we consider Judicial nominees or Executive branch nominees.” Though the group of senators added, “we are mindful of the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process, and we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great institution continues to serve as the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
He read that the group had belatedly asked the leaders, McConnell and Schumer, to join them in “opposing any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of senators to engage in full, robust and extended debate as we consider legislation before this body in the future.” Cotton added that 26 of the signers were Democrats who are currently serving in addition to Vice President Kamala Harris, making her the 27th.
The senator said, “somehow something’s changed since 2017,” noting that the Democrats “now think that the senate rules must be destroyed so they can pass their massive power grab.” He suggested that what has now changed is the majority noting, “Democrats have the most slender reed of power with Joe Biden in the White House and a 50-50 Senate and a four-seat majority in the House.”