Dems Who Voted to Nuke the Filibuster in 2013 Now Oppose Republicans Doing the Same

April 6, 2017

Senate Democrats on Thursday may be reflecting on the phrase "what goes around, comes around" after their Republican colleagues went nuclear with Senate filibuster rules.

Three and a half years after Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations to push through former President Barack Obama's judicial picks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) used their own tool against them: invoking the so-called "nuclear option" to advance Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination.

Democrats attempted to obstruct Gorsuch's nomination by using the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to bypass. By applying the "nuclear option," Supreme Court nominees would only need a simple, 51-vote majority to be confirmed.

The move is similar to what Senate Democrats did in 2013, when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) used the nuclear option for judicial nominations. Although many Democrats were hesitant at the time, they deemed it necessary, citing Republican filibuster efforts.

Only three Democrats opposed the nuclear option in 2013.

Now, however, most Democrats are opposing the nuclear option.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) was against the Senate filibuster rules before he was for them.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) believed the filibuster was an obstacle to get work done for the American people, despite her previous thoughts.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) voted for the nuclear option back in 2013, but now criticizes the GOP for doing the same thing.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) thanked Reid for his leadership in killing the filibuster in 2013, but issued a lurid tweet about McConnell's maneuver on Thursday.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) reminded the GOP about its previous support for the 60-vote threshold, disregarding his opinions in 2013.

Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) said blowing up the rules was a dangerous path, but she was fine with nuking them in 2013.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) criticized the rule change as a way for Republicans to keep people in power.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) said the GOP's actions would cause irreparable damage to the political process, but had no problem voting for the nuclear option in 2013.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) has also changed his mind about the nuclear option.

Like his colleagues, Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) believed in majority rule when it was convenient for his party.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) had no problem changing the rules back in 2013, but is disappointed in Republicans for doing the same.

Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) is another Democrat whose opinions on the nuclear option changed.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) thought the 2013 rules change made government "work better," but called Thursday one of his "saddest days in the Senate."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) also pushed for the nuclear option in 2012 and 2013.  She wrote an op-ed in 2012 for the Huffington Post calling for the nuclear option to kill the filibuster for all Senate votes.

"If Republicans continue to filibuster these highly qualified nominees for no reason other than to nullify the president's constitutional authority, then senators not only have the right to change the filibuster rules, senators have a duty to change the filibuster rules," Warren said in 2013.

But on Thursday Warren joined her Democratic colleagues in decrying McConnell's use of the nuclear option.