Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle says Democrats are more to blame in the destruction of “institutional pillars” of the upper chamber than Republicans.
In a podcast interview released Sunday with Real Clear Politics Executive Editor Carl Cannon, the South Dakota Democrat described how Democrats and Republicans argued with each other over the filibuster and the nuclear option just a few years ago.
Senate Republicans used their majority Thursday to change the filibuster rule on Supreme Court nominees so simple majority would only be required to end debate on the nomination as opposed to 60 votes. As a result of the rule change, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch received a final vote on Friday and was confirmed 55-45.
“Today is just amazing the symmetry that exists between those who believe that it’s wrong today but to believe in doing it before it’s…what I would I fear the most is a lack of respect and appreciation of the institution itself,” Daschle said.
Unfortunately, Democrats have far dirtier hands when it comes to the erosion of the institutional pillars of the Senate than Republicans going all the way back to–you know, they used to do filibusters in the House and the Senate. And the Senate the House took them away in the 1830s, and the Senate began taking them away under Woodrow Wilson in 1917–then getting rid of the talking filibuster in the 70s–and then the whole budget process was a Democratic product, and that was in my view a procedural disaster.
Daschle added, “Then we lowered the threshold from 67 to 60. That was a Democratic effort. And then in 2013, we took it away completely for nominations and that was Democratic. So, Democrats who may lament this institutional deterioration, I think there’s a lot of history here that can’t be explained away.”
Daschle served as majority leader of the upper chamber when President George W. Bush first came to office in 2000. Democrats used their majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee to stall incoming Bush nominees at the time from eventual confirmation. However, after losing the majority of the Senate in 2002, Democrats started an unprecedented partisan judicial filibuster against Bush D.C. Circuit Court appointment Miguel Estrada in 2001. The practice continued on other Bush judicial nominees thereafter.
“His nomination is being delayed and stalled by Democratic senators. His nomination has been stalled for two years. They’re blocking the vote on this good man for purely political reasons,” Bush said at the time. “The senators are applying a double standard to Miguel Estrada by requiring him to answer questions that other judicial nominees over time have not been forced to answer.”
Estrada eventually withdrew from his nomination in 2003. When asked by The Daily Caller Thursday about his thoughts on the recent Supreme Court filibuster rule change and the 2013 rule change on lower court appointments, he replied by email, “I have no comment on the Senate’s action, other than to be pleased that Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed, as he should of course be given his sterling qualifications.”
When asked if he would consider an appointment from the Trump administration, Estrada only said, “I am happy in private practice.”
Estrada previously told National Law Journal on the matter of a potential appointment from the Trump administration, ”I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation or, for that matter, willingly place myself in any situation (e.g., a hearing room) in which convention requires that I be civil to Chuck Schumer.”