President Obama marshals the Constitution to fight the filibuster

As CAC’s Si Lazarus has chronicled in his recent piece in The New Republic, President Obama has been on something of a tear lately in terms of rooting his agenda for a second term in the Constitution’s text and history.

He did it again yesterday in responding to the first-in-history filibuster of a Secretary of Defense nominee, in this case, Chuck Hagel.

“There is nothing in the Constitution that says that somebody should get 60 votes. There are only a handful of instances where there’s been any kind of filibuster of anybody for a cabinet position in our history.

And what seems to be happening—and this has been growing for some time—[is] the Republican minority in the Senate now seems to think that the rule now is that you have to have 60 votes for everything. Well, that’s not the rule. The rule is that you’re supposed to have a majority of the 100 senators vote on most bills. The filibuster historically has been used selectively for a handful of issues to extend debate. But we don’t have a 60 vote rule. And yet that’s become common practice.

And this is just the latest example. We’ve seen it on judges. We’ve seen it on deputy treasury secretaries. And part of what’s happening is it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to join our government.”

He’s right, and it’s great to see the President fighting back with the Constitution at his side.