Rebranding the Filibuster

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 12 2013 11:40 AM

Rebranding the Filibuster

A few hours after cloture succeeded on the motion to proceed to debate on a gun bill, we heard anew from the senators who had planned to filibuster. Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul co-signed a statement:

As of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision.  Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it.  The American people expect more and deserve better.
Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold.

They're right; we have some detailed breakdowns of what Manchin-Toomey will include, but not the full text. When the full text is written, though, if it's comparable to the Schumer bill, it'll be readable in less than 60 minutes. Cruz and Lee are both well-trained attorneys, so they'd presumably spot the problems faster than most people. But why take such pains to justify their next move? The Wall Street Journal op-ed page led a charge, blaming them for allowing the Democrats to portray Republicans as the key votes on gun bills, the obstructionists Defying the Will of the People. They need to reframe the filibuster.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.