WASHINGTON — It was a powerful congressional weapon deployed in only the most extreme cases, so explosive that lawmakers feared the wider damage it could do if used for the wrong reasons. Today, the filibuster is an everyday part of Senate business, standard operating procedure in a polarized world where the once rare has become commonplace.
With the House poised to impeach President Trump on a mainly party-line vote and Republicans already threatening retribution, fears are mounting that presidential impeachment might, like the filibuster, become a regular feature of America’s weaponized politics, with members of the party out of the White House but in control of the House routinely trying to oust a president they find objectionable.
The escalating use of the filibuster and the rising toxicity of Supreme Court confirmation hearings are examples of how scorched-earth politics can be hard to extinguish once one party feels aggrieved and gets the opportunity to exact revenge.
Those grievances were on full display Thursday during the 14 hours of debate in the House Judiciary Committee over articles of impeachment. It was a discussion full of vitriol and invective that ended with the panel’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, gaveling the session to a close without a vote.