Obama Opposed Eliminating Filibuster In 2005

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that President Obama has come out in support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) plan to reform the filibuster.

This goes counter to Obama's view of this parliamentary procedure when he was a part of the Senate minority in 2005.

As a little background, the Republicans in the Senate at the time were angered by Democrat filibusters that were preventing President Bush's judicial appointments from getting an up or down vote.

The GOP threatened what was called the "nuclear option" of circumventing the filibuster by using reconciliation to get these jurists to be voted on.

Sen. Barack Obama spoke in opposition to this on April 13, 2005:

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-ILLINOIS): The American people sent us here to be their voice. They understand that those voices can at times become loud and argumentative, but they also hope that we can disagree without being disagreeable. […]
What they don't expect is for one party - be it Republican or Democrat - to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.  […]

The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that the majority chooses to end the filibuster. If they choose to change the rules and put an end to Democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

Now I understand that Republicans are getting a lot of pressure to do this from factions outside the chamber, but we need to rise above the "ends justify the means" mentality because we're here to answer to the people - all of the people - not just the ones that are wearing our particular party label. […]

If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who asked us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That doesn't serve anyone's best interests, and it certainly isn't what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind. We owe the people who sent us here more than that - we owe them much more.

That was Obama in 2005 when his Party was in the minority. He even confirmed this in an email message to the American Thinker's Randall Hoven on June 29 of that year:

From: senator_obama@obama.senate.gov[mailto:senator_obama@obama.senate.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 11:02 AM
To: Hoven, Randall M
Subject: Message from Senator Barack Obama

Dear Randall:

Thank you for your letter. I appreciate hearing from you.

I recognize that the filibuster can be used for unfortunate purposes. However, I am also aware that the Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority -- and that protection, with some changes, has been in place for over 200 years.

I guess now that he's president and his Party is in the majority in the Senate, what the Founding Fathers wanted is no longer important.

Consider what White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told the Huffington Post Wednesday:

"The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action...They want to see progress, not partisan delay games. That hasn't changed, and the President supports Majority Leader Reid's efforts to reform the filibuster process.

"Over the past few years important pieces of legislation like the DREAM Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the American Jobs Act weren't even allowed to be debated, and judicial nominations and key members of the administration are routinely forced to wait months for an up-or-down vote," Pfeiffer added. "The American people deserve a United States Senate that puts them first, instead of partisan delay."

That "partisan delay" was just fine when his Party was in the minority.

Let's hope his defenders in the media expose this hypocrisy as this process moves forward.

Stay tuned.

Barack Obama
Noel Sheppard's picture

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