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Doug Jones backs keeping Senate’s 60-vote cloture threshold, opposes packing the Supreme Court

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has addressed whether the United States Senate should end the filibuster as we know it.

Certain national Democrats, including U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) over the weekend, have come out in support of ending the filibuster if Democrats take back the Senate in November’s general election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said Democrats will consider this, as well as drastic options such as packing the court.

“Nothing’s off the table,” Schumer said.

This type of rhetoric came after Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday and it became clear that President Donald Trump plans to put forward a nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Senate’s current rule requires 60 votes to end a filibuster, otherwise known as invoking cloture.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2013 dropped the threshold from 60 votes to end a filibuster to a simple majority for all executive branch nominees. This paved the way for the same being done for judicial nominees, including SCOTUS nominations.

Reid in recent days told Fox News the filibuster will soon be completely gone.

“It’s not a question of if (the filibuster) is going to be gone. It’s a question of when it’s going to be done,” Reid asserted. “The filibuster is history. It won’t be in existence next year at this time.”

However, Alabama’s junior senator is pushing back.

In an interview with Vox published on Monday, Jones voiced support for the 60-vote threshold needed to invoke cloture.

Transcript as follows, courtesy of Vox:

Ella Nilsen:

I wanted to get your thoughts on filibuster reform. Do you think that’s an option Democrats should pursue if you are in the majority in the Senate but you’re dealing with an obstinate Republican minority?

Doug Jones:

I know there’s a lot of talk about that. And also know, if Joe Biden is president of the United States, Biden has a 40-year history of working with Republicans. And no matter what happens during the election season, they all like him; I’ve heard that time and time again. Joe is the kind of guy that’s a Senate institutionalist. I really believe he will want to work with Republicans to try to get things done. This ability to just go from one Senate majority to the other with or without the president, it’s not good for the country.

I think the filibuster rule is a way that you have to reach out. That’s what I do every day when I’m in the Senate, and sometimes I have to reach out within my own party to try to pull people together. I think Joe’s gonna give this a chance, and I’m very hopeful that Senate Republicans will take the opportunity to move together.

Let’s get the Senate back to some regular order where we can debate the issues of the day, have amendments on the issues of the day, vote on them up or down, let the president do what he’s going to do. But give the president an opportunity to find that common ground.

It is by finding common ground that we move forward, not by just doing it by simple whim of who happens to be in the majority, because then you’re gonna see, just like we’re seeing with executive orders playing out — a new president comes in, gets rid of all his predecessor’s executive orders, those new ones that we don’t need to see that’s happening with legislation.

We need to see some consistency. I think filibuster rule, the 60-vote margin, is a way to do that.

On Monday, Jones also addressed the potential of packing the court and other general actions Democrats could take in response to Trump nominating and the Senate confirming a new Supreme Court justice in the coming weeks.

In a Facebook livestream hosted by his reelection campaign, Jones was asked if he supported “packing the court” by increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Theoretically, a Democratic-controlled Congress could pass legislation doing so, to be signed by 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, if the upcoming election goes their way. Biden could then fill the court with liberal justices, who would only need a majority vote in a Democrat-controlled Senate.

Jones on the notion of packing the court said, “I don’t agree.”

“I don’t believe in retaliatory measures,” he explained. “I just think that that is crazy.”

The senator subsequently outlined that packing the courts would destroy the U.S. Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

“I am not for retaliatory measures,” Jones added. “I think, you know we’ve had nine folks on the Supreme Court since 1869, I believe. And it’s worked out pretty well over the years. … I just don’t think that people should start trying to threaten or do retaliation measures like that.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn