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Democrats Find a Filibuster They Can Get Behind

The Texas Democrats didn’t accomplish their mission, but they managed to expose the party’s glaring hypocrisy

Texas Democrats who fled the state for Washington, D.C.
• July 17, 2021 5:00 am

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Democrats, who have been toying all year with the idea of nuking the legislative filibuster in order to jam through a left-wing wishlist on party lines, have finally found a form of obstruction they support. 

The Texas Democrats who fled the state for D.C. in order to derail their own legislative session received a hero’s welcome from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who praised their courage and compared them to the abolitionist hero Frederick Douglass. "As American as apple pie," the vice president declared. 

The Texans may have failed in their mission—more on that later—but they succeeded spectacularly in exposing the hypocrisy of their party on minority power.

The group was looking to stop the Republican majority in the Texas legislature from passing a package of voting reforms by taking the extreme step as a minority party of leaving the state altogether. Without enough present members, the Texas House of Representatives shuts down. Their departure temporarily robbed Republicans of the ability to move legislation.

But their only hope for a permanent solution was to press party leaders in Washington to abolish the filibuster, clearing the way for a piece of federal legislation—the For the People Act—that would supersede the Texas bill. And in a shameless political about-face, the group immediately began lobbying Democrats to eliminate the minority’s power in Congress.

Things haven’t gone the way they had hoped. Determined to give Harris a run for her money in the realm of absurd historical comparisons, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Republican attempts to change election laws represent "the most serious test of our democracy since the Civil War." 

But the party he feebly controls has moved on. The Washington Post reported on Friday that while congressional Democrats offered fulsome praise for the Texas legislators, they have turned their full attention to passing a $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Convincing centrist Democrats to abandon the filibuster was always a fool’s errand—Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) have made it abundantly clear they’re not willing to pay the political price back home for joining a Democratic power-play. 

The Texans will have to stay out of the state until August 6 to wait out the entire session. Republican leaders have vowed to arrest them and bring them to the statehouse for a vote when they return. 

At least they got a free vacation out of it. The rest of us got a searing demonstration of the Democratic Party’s lack of seriousness and principle when its members carp about Republican obstruction. 

We couldn’t have scripted it better ourselves.