Filiblustering the Future of America

The pace is quickening for House Democrats with last week’s passage of a troika of contrany titled bills now in the Senate hopper.  First to switch chambers was House Bill (HB) 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  That was followed by HB1, For the People Act, and HB1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

For the privilege of being rescued, middle-class Americans will be rode hard by a $1.9 trillion price tag against their future liquidity and that of their children.  HB1319 is dressed up with promises of compensation checks, virus testing and vaccines, food stamp and school programs, homeowner tax breaks, psychological services, and other pandemic head fakes.  In sum, actual relief doesn’t add up to a whole hell of a lot, nine percent, in fact, of all allocated funds.

Democrats are using pandemic-related as a generous definition for pandemic relief.  Much of HB1319 is a watering trough that buys off a voting constituency and finances progressive pet projects, funds Planned Parenthood and abortions, doles out loyalty payments to teachers unions, bails out fiscally-irresponsible blue states, imputes racial equity qualifications for farm grants, and sends billions to overseas COVID efforts after paring down relief checks to Americans.

HB1, in contradiction to its altruistic title, For the People Act, encourages continued election hijinks by Beltway bluebloods and greatly harms the body politic by upending sovereign state protocols.  The bill seeks to strip federalism from the states, facilitates statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, imposes voter requirements that will embrace illegal alien registration, ignores the Constitution by allowing convicted felons to vote, sanctions ballot harvesting, prevents the auditing and updating of registration databases that turn once living Republicans into dead Democrat voters, and codifies a corrupt federal influence over future state election campaigns and vote counts.  It passed the House with near-unanimity by Democrats, a single-minded feat quite beyond the capacity of the Republican party.

Also enacted along House party lines was HB1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a vengeful bill that convenes a grand inquisition on American law enforcement by abolishing qualified immunity and exposes good police officers to personal lawsuits when they must use force to uphold the law.  Millions of other local, state, and federal government workers, to include prosecutors and judges who hold sway over criminal investigations, trials, and punishment, will continue to enjoy those protections, as will congressional Democrats and Republicans who have, to date, refused to lift similar Section 230 protections on oppressive social media platforms.

Doing away with qualified immunity will cast a wide net over police behavior.  Criminals would be empowered to file frivolous complaints over nonlethal uses of force in routine, lawful arrests.  Police officers would find themselves brought before activist judges and capricious juries, absent of any legal representation from their employers, and at risk of losing their personal and family fortunes from politically-influenced court decisions.

If HB1280 becomes law, it will defund the police by discouraging applicants, as becoming a cop would be made even more dangerous and untenable.  Depolicing would replace public safety, as police will use their discretion to reduce personal risk by avoiding confrontation.  Look to the summer riots of 2020, when city police were hamstrung and sidelined by Democrat mayors who played politics with people’s lives and their livelihoods, obliging miscreants to loot and burn.     

HB1280 also extends to the state attorneys general the authority to investigate and impose consistently ineffective, costly, and oppressive consent decrees upon police departments as a means to align the profession with social justice and race equity issues.  The bill prohibits chokeholds and some no-knock warrants that are crucial when encountering armed suspects concealed behind locked doors or as a means to prevent the destruction of evidence.  Such warrants require scrutiny by deputy attorneys and county judges before they are issued.  The legislation also creates a national registry of police use-of-force, even including incidents where the allegation is unfounded, or officers are exonerated.  This bill is patently harmful to public safety, a perilous state of affairs that safeguarded Democrat lawmakers are willing to overlook.

Pelosi had originally scheduled up or down votes on HB1 and HB1280 for March 4, but the parody of reprised Capitol assaults on that date by straw soldiers of former President Trump’s militia prompted a roll call the previous evening and a melodramatic cancellation of the following day’s business.  For their part, the Democrat Senate stayed open for business, no doubt as fearful of marauding white supremacists, but even more eager to bum rush the progressive wish-lists behind three hyperpartisan bills.

Laws proposed by the House pass by a simple majority, but the going is tougher on the Senate floor.  The minority party can engage in talkathons called filibusters in order to force compromise and amend opposed legislation.  Democrats now in the majority can thwart those efforts through cloture to end debate, or by eliminating the filibuster outright.

The problem for both parties is that the filibuster is a powerful sword that can easily change hands with a few Senate races gone bad.  In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster in order to pass ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and cabinet appointments.  Mitch McConnell cast it aside to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominees in the face of stiff Democrat resistance.  Holding the majority reins, Schumer is now circling McConnell in dangerous waters, once again threatening its demise to advance Biden’s radical legislative agenda.

Schumer had no reason to eliminate the filibuster for the COVID bill because its impact upon the federal treasury allowed for the process of budget reconciliation.  By procedure, Republicans were allowed a limited debate and the opportunity to propose dozens of amendments to the bill.  Democrats handily defeated all but three of the proposed revisions in a daylong vote-a-thon and HB1319 passed without a smidgeon of Republican support.

The voting rights and police bills, HB1 and HB1280, are now up for consideration.  Unless they are attached to a budget bill, reconciliation is off the table.  Senate ratification will require the desertion of ten Republicans to end prolonged debate and a supermajority of sixty votes for passage.

If the filibuster survives in the Senate, these bills are headed for the dustbin.  Hardline Democrats and activist groups are now pushing Schumer to invoke the nuclear option.  For a party that has tacked hard left, thrown bipartisanship to the wind, and gained power by chicanery, leaving the filibuster in the hands of a Republican minority is a dangerous gambit.

Americans are once again getting hoodwinked by words over intentions.  Through a shrewd sleight of appellation we are told that these bills claim to help those struggling with the pandemic, promise much-needed election reform, and will bring racial justice to the epidemic use of force by police.  Few have read them entirely, as each are hundreds of pages long and often feature more pork than a Hawaiian luau. The Democrats seek vantage from shallow viewpoints and media bias to shape public opinion and support.  Legislative tomes dubbed as compassionate acts usually shroud more diabolical propositions.

It's high times at the Capitol fortress and the drinks are on the House.  Republican representation in government has been reduced to a filibuster tactic as the only wedge between unchecked, one-party authoritarianism and a tenuous hold on democracy.  The manipulated outcome of the 2020 election was an omen that all Americans will lose in either case, as it is just a matter of downward velocity.

Image: D Begley