Sen. Mitt Romney warned Democrats that eliminating the filibuster would be detrimental to the Senate.
Sen. Mitt Romney last week warned Democrats against changing filibuster rules in the upper chamber, pointing to the prospect of Republicans seizing control of Congress in 2022 and former President Donald Trump potentially retaking the White House in 2024.
The Utah Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 2018, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post and took part in opinion columnist James Hohmann’s “Please, Go On” podcast to relay his message, pointing out that it would be foolhardy to alter the way in which the deliberative body operates.
Romney referenced the Democratic push for voting-rights legislation with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act, both of which have attracted near-universal opposition from Republicans, who contend that the federal measures are tantamount to intruding into state election affairs.
With the Senate split evenly between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the former party controls the chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. However, due to the 60-vote threshold needed to advance most pieces of legislation, Republicans can easily filibuster legislation not to their liking – which they have consistently done with the pair of voting-rights bills.
“If the Democrats say, ‘Look, we’re going to eliminate the filibuster just for voting rights,’ I can assure you that the opposition party, when we are in the majority, will eliminate the filibuster for something else that we care about, that’ll be important to us,” Romney said on Hohmann’s podcast. “And it’ll be goodbye to the Senate as we know it.”
The senator argued in his op-ed that the protection of minority rights was paramount in the Senate, calling on Democrats to think about their collective predicament should they find themselves with fewer than 50 seats in the chamber.
“Note that in our federal government, empowerment of the minority is established in just one institution: the Senate,” he wrote. “The majority decides in the House; the majority decides in the Supreme Court; and the president is a majority of one. Only in the Senate does the minority restrain the power of the majority.”
“That a minority should be afforded such political power is a critical element of the institution. For a law to pass in the Senate, it must appeal to senators in both parties. The Senate’s minority empowerment has meant that our nation’s policies inevitably tack toward the center,” he added.
During the interview on Hohmann’s podcast, Romney said that the voting-rights bills which have been put on the Senate floor by Democrats have so far been unsuccessful because they were not written with GOP input.
“Pretty much, by definition, if a piece of legislation comes forward in the Senate with only one party behind it, with only one party that wrote it, it’s not going to become a law. And things that get done are done with people who negotiate beforehand and write the bill on a bipartisan basis,” he emphasized.
Romney, who has long had an acrimonious relationship with Trump, brought up the prospect that the former president could win the presidency again – and used a cautionary tale of the GOP controlling Congress without the filibuster in place.
“Have Democrats thought through what it would mean for them for Trump to be entirely unrestrained, with the Democratic minority having no power whatsoever?” he asked in the op-ed.
Romney in 2020 voted to convict Trump for abuse of power in the then-president’s first impeachment trial centered on the Ukraine scandal. The senator also voted to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
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