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More than four years after he called for Republicans to change Senate rules to ram his agenda through Congress, former president Donald Trump is now lambasting Democrats for wanting to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass legislation to roll back GOP assaults on voting rights.
Speaking at a “Save America” political rally Florence, Arizona, the twice-impeached ex-president — who last year incited an attack on the US Capitol in an attempt to remain in power — claimed the United States is “going to hell” because Republicans do not have control over the entirety of the federal government. He also complained that Democrats want to deep-six a longstanding Senate rule which the GOP has weaponised to prevent nearly all legislation favoured by Democrats from being put to a vote in the upper chamber.
“You know they want to knock out the filibuster and get things approved, and it's hanging by a thread,” said Mr Trump, who was the closing act on a bill featuring a veritable who’s who of his acolytes and conspiracy theorists who’ve embraced the campaign of lies that he has kept up since the night voters rejected his bid for a second term in November 2020.
The Democratic push to remove the Senate’s de facto supermajority requirement for most legislation has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks as Democrats have tried to make progress on a bill that would reauthorise part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which once kept states from enacting policies meant to keep racial minorities from exercising the franchise.
While the vast majority of the Senate’s 50 Democrats support changing the rules, two Democratic senators — Arizona’s Krysten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — remain committed to keeping the status quo.
While Mr Trump now laments the possibility that Democrats might remove what has become a go-to GOP tactic for thwarting Democratic-backed legislation, the disgraced former president was once on the other side of the argument.
Seven months into his term then-president Trump took to Twitter to exhort the then-52 seat GOP majority to end the filibuster so they could more easily move forward on his legislative agenda.
"If Republican Senate doesn't get rid of the Filibuster Rule & go to a simple majority, which the Dems would do, they are just wasting time!" he wrote, just days after urging the same at a 22 August 2017 campaign rally in, ironically enough, Phoenix, Arizona.
"And for our friends in the Senate, oh boy — the Senate, remember this — look, the Senate, we have to get rid of what's called the filibuster rule. We have to," Mr Trump said. "And if we don't, the Republicans will never get anything passed. You're wasting your time”.
Several weeks later, he once again tweeted that the Senate GOP should ditch the supermajority rule to pass the tax cut bill he coveted.
“With the ridiculous Filibuster Rule in the Senate, Republicans need 60 votes to pass legislation, rather than 51,” Mr Trump tweeted. “Can't get votes, END NOW!”
But Republicans, led by then-majority leader Mitch McConnell, did not heed his demand.
In an interview with Politico several months later, Mr McConnell said he told Mr Trump he did not think the legislative filibuster was “a problem”.
“I think both sides, having been up and down a number of times, understand the advantages when you’re not in the majority,” he said.