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March 03, 2017 10:46 AM UTC

With key votes looming, Coffman flips on the U.S. Senate filibuster rule

  • 3 Comments
  • by: Jason Salzman

(Mike Coffman flip-flops once again – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman.

UPDATE: Coffman responded to Joey Bunch:

Coffman: “My comment was referring to legislation where I could see that between 2013 and until recently, nothing was getting done in D.C., and that it would be better for the American people to hold the majority party in the Senate responsible for their leadership,” Coffman said. “This instead of simply having gridlock with neither party being able to take responsibility for passing legislation.

“The filibuster has evolved from a tool that was seldom used to one that is commonly used by the minority to continuously block the passage of legislation that has the support of the majority of senators. However, I still support its use for the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.”

Context: In 2013, when Coffman was for the filibuster, it was, in fact, not “seldom used” but instead was being abused in an unprecedented way by Republicans, as you can see in this graph. After 2013, it continued to be abused by Republicans. So Coffman is right about obstructionism, but–as a factual matter–it was his party that was doing most of the obstructing–and they were doing it throughout the time Coffman was for the filibuster. It’s good to see Coffman make an exception for the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, but with his flip now, Coffman is effectively trying to get rid of the filibuster so the Senate won’t obstruct Trump.

Once a staunch supporter of the U.S. Senate filibuster, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is now saying he’s against the rule, which mandates the approval of 60 U.S. Senators to end debate and vote on legislation.

Coffman’s flip comes as the U.S. Senate is set to consider controversial Republican legislation on the environment, healthcare, immigration, and more.

The Aurora Republican apparently shifted his position Jan. 7, in rambling interview on KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger show, during which he said,

Coffman said on air  Jan. 7: “I remember talking to Senator Grassley one day about [the filibuster], saying, you know, ‘You guys [have] got to repeal this thing. You’ve got to do away with this.’ He goes, ‘Oh, well. You know what? Things would be a lot worse. You know, we were able to block things when we were in the minority.’ Well, but the problem is is the America see no difference with whoever is in charge, who they elect. It just, things aren’t getting done. Things pass the House and they just die in the Senate because of the ability of the minority — now, the Democrats — to block this stuff.”

Coffman took the opposite stance on the filibuster back in 2013, on KHOW 630-AM’s Mandy Connell show.

Reacting to a rule change by U.S. Senate Democrats dispensing with the filibuster when considering federal court nominees (excluding the Supreme Court) Coffman said in 2013:

Coffman: “The United States Senate, designed by our founding fathers of the Constitution, was set up to be the more deliberative body, that it would in fact, given that cloture rule was to require bipartisanship, that not one party simply have a monopoly of power. And I think that when people complain, particulalry the president, and you often hear of more liberal commentators complain about the gridlock in Washington D.C., or the inability for bipartisanship to occur, and they try to blame Republicans – oh my gosh! Look at this! This negates the requirement for bipartisanship by doing away with that 60 vote requirement to bring those nominations via the executive branch to the floor of the Senate. So, you know, it is certainly disappointing.”

Coffman, whose Washington DC office did not immediately return a call seeking comment on his filibuster flip, appeared to justify his new stance against the filibuster in his Jan. 7 radio appearance by saying he thinks Obama is a “president who never goes away” and will lead the opposition “on a daily basis.”

Coffman: “In President Obama, we have something historically unique. I think we’re going to have a president who never goes away. I think we’re going to have a president who lives in D.C. and who leads the opposition on a daily basis, where presidents have always deferred to their successors and staying out. I don’t think he is! I don’t think he has any intention of doing that.”

Coffman also said that without the repeal of the filibuster, it will be “tough” to address Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, which reformed financial regulations after the crash of 2009,

With respect to Dodd-Frank, Coffman told KNUS’ Sengenberger:

Coffman: “You have Elizabeth Warren over there who will, you know, block any changes to [Dodd-Frank]. And the minority is able to do that.”

The U.S. Senate can use the budget reconciliation process, requiring a simple majority vote, to change some specific spending measures, but policy changes must currently be approved by passing new legislation, which can be blocked by a filibuster.

Listen below to Coffman on Nov. 26, 2013 versus Jan. 7, 2017. Transcripts are also posted below.

COFFMAN in 2013: Well, I think what I’m looking forward to the most is actually the easiest part. And the easiest part is the fact that — it was really out of the White House — is that you had, where President Obama said “I have a pen and phone.” [laughs] Well, as all our President Trump needs is a pen and there is all this government through executive action, all the executive overreach, all these horrible regulations, that process all stops and we’re able to roll — we’re going to be able to roll so much of it back. That in itself is positive. That’s the easiest part.

The part that’s hard is — and I think that I disagree with my Senate colleagues on this — on the having this rule on the filibuster. It allows a minority to block so much. Yes, when it comes to tax and spending things we can use budget reconciliation once a year to get around that on a lot of issues. But you have so many things that were put in place, like Dodd-Frank, that is just bad, I think, for the country, in terms of economic growth. You have Elizabeth Warren over there who will, you know, block any changes to that. And the minority is able to do that. And through the filibuster, this thing about requiring 60 votes to bring anything to the floor, which has no foundation in the Constitution of the United States, is a 20th century creation, I think, after World War I in terms of throwing road blocks up, I think, to the ratification of the League of Nations and then has been abused and expanded since then to the point now — and you don’t have to be on the floor to do it anymore. You used to have to stay on the floor to be able to do a filibuster. Now you don’t. And so, it just enables — and so, what it does is it makes it look to the American people that nobody is really in charge. And I’ve had — I remember talking to Senator Grassley one day about it, saying, you know, “You guys [have] got to repeal this thing —you’ve got to do away with this.” He goes, “Oh, well. You know what? Things would be a lot worse. You know, we were able to block things when we were in the minority.” Well, but that — the problem is is the America people see no difference with whoever is in charge, who they elect. It just, things aren’t getting done. Things pass the House and they just die in the Senate because of the ability of the minority — now, the Democrats — to block this stuff. You know— you know what? I just think that that’s just a bad argument. I know that they see it as an insurance policy. But I disagree with it. But I think it’s going to make — that will make it tough to get a lot of things done, to include Obamacare!

I think we have a President — in President Obama we have something historically unique. I think we’re going to have a president who never goes away. I think we’re going to have a president —.

KNUS Host SENGENBERGER: He’s going to live in D.C.!

COFFMAN: —who lives in D.C. and who leads the opposition on a daily basis, where presidents have always deferred to their successors and staying out. I don’t think he is. I don’t think he has any intention of doing that. And it was amazing that the day last week — I think it was Tuesday when, Tuesday or Wednesday, I can’t remember—when Pence came up and met with us, was the same time President Obama came up and met with House and Senate Democratic counterparts — our counterparts — and basically said, “Don’t cooperate!” You know, “Don’t compromise,” which is — you know, on Obamacare — which is amazing. And because of the filibuster, guess what. This is going to be tough.

———

KHOW Host Mandy CONNELL in 2013: [Connell references the filibuster action taken by Democrats last week in the U.S. Senate and calls it is an unconstitutional power grab. She sayd Democrats are short sighted in not acknowledging that they will not always be in the majority, and how “eventually, at some point, your guy isn’t going to be in charge anymore.”]

COFFMAN in 2013: Well, I think it’s stunning to – I mean, the United States Senate, designed by our founding fathers of the Constitution, was set up to be the more deliberative body, that it would in fact, given that cloture rule was to require bipartisanship, that not one party simply have a monopoly of power. And I think that when people complain, the president you often hear of more liberal commentators complain about the gridlock in Washington D.C., or the inability for bipartisanship to occur, and they try to blame Republicans – oh my gosh! Look at this! This negates the requirement for bipartisanship by doing away with that 60 vote requirement to bring those nominations via the executive branch to the floor of the Senate. So, you know, it is certainly disappointing.

Correction: This post initially stated that a vote of two-thirds of U.S. Senators, instead of the correct number of 60, is required under the U.S. Senate filibuster rule to end debate. 

Comments

3 thoughts on “With key votes looming, Coffman flips on the U.S. Senate filibuster rule

  1. Did Coffman get promoted to the Senate and nobody bothered to tell me?

    Didn't the Dems change the rules of the Senate after December 2013?

    1. In case you missed it AC, your fuhrer was blaming the Democrats during his early morning bowel movement for not having his Cabinet in place yet. 

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