Madam President: The Senator from Arkansas
Senator Tom Cotton: Right now we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. We’re about to step into the abyss. I want to talk for a few minutes, why we’re on that precipice and why we’re looking into that abyss.
Let me first ask a fundamental question. What is the crisis that calls for the undoing of two centuries of tradition? Are Senators merely doing their jobs as legislators, responding to a generalized public calling for the abolition of the filibuster? Clearly not. It is not the American people at large who are demanding detonation of the nuclear option. The nuclear option is being pushed largely by the radioactive rhetoric of a small band of radicals who hold their hands the political fortunes of the president.
Constitutional scholars will tell us that the reason we have these rules in the Senate, unlimited debate, 2/3rds to change the rules, the idea that 60 have to close off debate, is embodied in the spirit and rule of the Constitution. That is what the Constitution is all about, and we all know it. It is the Senate where the founding fathers established a repository of checks and balances. It’s not like the House of Representatives where the Majority Leader or the Speaker snaps his fingers and gets what he wants on important issues the founding fathers wanted. And they were correct in my judgment, that the slimmest majority should not always govern. The Senate is not majoritarian body. The bottom line is very simple, the ideologues in the Senate want to turn the founding fathers, what the founding fathers called the cooling saucer of democracy into a rubber-stamp of dictatorship. They will make this country into a Banana Republic, where if you don’t get your way, you change the rules. Are we going to let them? It will be a doomsday for democracy if we do.
I, for one, hope and pray that it will not come to this. But I assure my colleagues, at least speaking for this Senator, I will do everything I can to prevent a nuclear option from being invoked. Not for the sake of myself or my party, but for the sake of this great Republic and its traditions.
Those are powerful words, they’re not mine. Every word of my speech, today, was originally spoken by our esteemed colleague the Senior Senator from New York Chuck Schumer. Senator Schumer spoke so eloquently in defense of the Senate’s rules, customs, and traditions, and the fortunes of his party look a little different.
My how times have changed. Now it’s Senator Schumer’s fingers that are hovering over the nuclear button ready to destroy the Senate for partisan advantage. Think about it. The narrowest majority in Senate history wants to break the Senate rules to control how voters in every state elect Senators. Could there be a better argument to preserve the Senate’s rules, customs, and traditions. So, before its too late, let us reflet on the wise and elegant words of Senator Schumer, words that are as true today as they were when he spoke them. Even Senator Schumer is singing a different tune today.
Madam President I yield the floor.