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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out Democrats for trying to undermine the legislative filibuster in hopes of forcing through a federal election takeover that would give their party an advantage in future elections. Thune discussed the dangerous precedent that would be set if Democrats eliminated the legislative filibuster and noted that sharp changes in federal policy every few years would result in endless confusion for Americans and heighten the partisanship and division that exists in our country.
Excerpts of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, later today, we expect the Democrat leader to force a vote on undermining the filibuster in hopes of forcing through a federal election takeover to give his party an advantage in future elections.
“And make no mistake about it, that is what we are talking about, federalizing elections in this county.
“Usurping, preempting states, where elections have been administered and regulated since [the] inception of this country.
“And the method, the method that you're talking about using to do it will literally undermine and blow up everything the Senate was supposed to be.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, our Founders created this institution to be separate and distinct from the House of Representatives for a reason.
“And what you're talking about doing today is turning the United States Senate into a majoritarian body.
“No different – no different from the House of Representatives, except with longer terms, and some people would argue bigger egos.
“That's what we're talking about doing.
“They won’t need us.
“Yeah, we have longer terms.
“But the essence of the Senate is a check and balance on the passions of the other body, and there's a reason why the Founders created it.”
“And our state legislature, like most state legislatures, pretty much every year comes up with ideas.
“Some of them – a few of them, not most, but a few – get enacted into law, but a lot of them end on the cutting room floor, which is where most legislative ideas end up.
“And there are some crazy ones.
“I would argue we have some crazy ones coming out of here.
“There are some pretty crazy bills that get introduced around here, most of which gladly never make it into law.
“But in South Dakota, our legislature meets every year, like most legislatures, introduces a bunch of bills, acts on them, conducts hearings, moves them through the legislative process, some become enacted and signed in law, most don't.
“One of the bills that did get signed into law was a bill that created a photo ID to vote.
“It was passed in 2003.
“It's worked well in South Dakota.
“People support it, not just in South Dakota but across the country.
“And after it passed in 2003, the 2004 election was the largest turnout in modern history, at least for the years which we have that kind of information available.
“78.6 percent of people voted in the 2004 election after, after, in 2003, the South Dakota legislature passed a photo ID law.”
“The state of Georgia, for example, in terms of days in which you can early vote – has actually, has more early voting, more early voting, more permissive early voting than the state of New York or the state of Delaware – the president's home state.
“No-excuse absentee voting.
“We have that in South Dakota.
“We have a long period for absentee voting or early voting in South Dakota, much longer than what we're talking about here. A red state.
“A state legislature decided that – thought it made sense.
“But no-excuse absentee voting, something we do in South Dakota, something that's allowed for in Georgia, but not in the state of New York or the state of Delaware.
“Because the states decided, as it should be, about standing in line giving people things while they're standing in line to vote.
“The state of South Dakota has a law against that too.
“It's called electioneering. It's called electioneering.”
“What you all [are] trying to do here is create a system that seems to me at least, where you give your side a permanent advantage.
“And that's your prerogative.
“If you want to do this, that's fine – in terms of having the issue and talking about it.
“But the one thing I just fundamentally disagree with is how you're proposing to do it.
“To literally do away with everything the Senate was designed and created to be by our Founders and has served a purpose very, very well, and you all did it, the last session of Congress, when you filibustered numerous coronavirus bills.
“You filibustered police reform.
“You filibuster pro-life legislation.
“And I could go down the list.
“And like I said, use the 60-vote threshold last week to keep a Russia sanctions bill, a bipartisan Russia sanctions bill I might add, from passing in the Senate.
“And you can go on and look at all the statements you've all made through the years.
“And I'm not going to repeat them because you've heard them over and over again.
“But I think it's important to remember one thing, and that is that when you make statements like that they do have a shelf life.
“And that shelf life is pretty short, because it was just a few years ago.
“Some cases three, four years ago.
“Some cases one year ago, two years ago.
“A lot of you have statements publicly, clearly out there defending the filibuster, doing away with it would be doomsday for democracy, turn America into a banana republic.
“Don't do it.
“I'm just saying don't do it.
“There has got to be some of you over there who get this.”
“Mr. President, we are better than this – or our country’s better than this.
“Our Founders created a system that was designed to provide that moderation, to provide that continuity, to provide that stability, to provide that predictability in a way that what is being talked about today would completely destroy and undermine, not only the near term, but permanently, because you can't do this once.
“You can't turn this off.
“You can't put the genie back in the bottle.
“Once you do this, it's the new state of play in the United States Senate.
“And that's a whole new world.
“Not just for us, for the people we represent, for our nation, and for the world.
“I hope and pray that there are enough wise Democrats on your side that will join with all of us to resist the pressure that you're feeling like we did when our president came to us and said you got to do this.
“We aren’t going to do it, because we understand what it means, and you should too.”