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Chris Hayes Calls Filibuster Procedure ‘Anti-Democratic’

• April 4, 2017 8:54 am

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MSNBC host Chris Hayes said Monday night that the filibuster is an "anti-Democratic procedural mechanism" during a discussion on Senate Democrats reaching the threshold to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination earlier that day.

Sen. Rand Paul's (R., Ky.) former communication director, Brian Darling, told Hayes that he and other progressives should be cheering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) for indicating he will use the so-called "nuclear option" considering their vocal support for filibuster reform.

"Oh yeah, let me be clear," Hayes said. "The filibuster is an anti-Democratic procedural mechanism that is nowhere in the Constitution. It was not envisioned by the founders, and I think as a sort of selective thing it's fine."

Hayes added that filibusters increased significantly during the Obama administration, but he said if the mechanism becomes a "de facto supermajority" for a political party in the Senate, then it should be killed.

Later in the interview, Hayes asked former Sen. Harry Reid's (D., Nev.) old spokesperson, Jim Manley, about the filibuster procedure and whether he supports the Democrats filibustering Gorsuch's nomination, noting that Reid eliminated filibusters for most nominations by presidents in 2013.

"Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades," the Washington Post reported at the time in 2013.

Reid had invoked the nuclear option as majority leader to push through several of former President Obama's appointees to circumvent Republican opposition.

Manley acknowledged that he did support Democrats filibustering Gorsuch, despite his previous disagreement with Reid over the nuclear option.

"I've reluctantly come to the decision after long–a lot of thought that this is absolutely the right thing to go," Manley said. "For me, with all do respect to Sen. [Hirono], it absolutely has everything, almost everything to do with how they treated [Judge] Merrick Garland."

Earlier on Monday, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware became the 41st Senate Democrat to oppose Gorsuch's nomination, giving Democrats enough votes to filibuster President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and other Democrats have pledged to filibuster Gorsuch's nomination and do everything possible to block him from being confirmed. The Senate's 52 Republicans need at least eight Democrats to join them in blocking a filibuster, or McConnell could employ the nuclear option, lowering the threshold to confirm Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple, 51-vote majority.

McConnell and other Senate Republicans have indicated they are willing to use the nuclear option to break a Democratic filibuster to confirm Gorsuch, whose nomination the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to recommend to the full Senate.