Hagerty Delivers Floor Remarks on Democrats’ aim to Eliminate the Filibuster, Federalize Elections

January 19, 2022

“Abolishing the filibuster would end the Senate’s unique role in American government, which has kept us on the steady course of becoming a more perfect union for more than 230 years.”

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor to express his opposition to Democrats’ aim to abolish the filibuster, paving the way for them to federalize elections and enact President Joe Biden’s radical agenda.

*Click to photo above or here to watch*

Remarks as Prepared

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am here today to address Democrat leadership’s effort to demolish the Senate’s rules and structure—and thereby destroy the world’s greatest deliberative body.  Their ploy would silence millions of Americans, and it would substantially harm our nation.

Abolishing the filibuster would end the Senate’s unique role in American government, which has kept us on the steady course of becoming a more perfect union for more than 230 years.

This unique role is to ensure that federal legislation—covering all 50 states—requires careful debate and broad support, often reflecting compromise, so that American policy is durable and lasting. 

That way, as the Senior Senator from Arizona put it in her courageous and patriotic remarks last week, we avoid “wild reversals in federal policy” every few years on the basis of bare majorities, which would make our government far less effective and our nation’s economy far less stable.

Democrats know how integral the filibuster is to American government.  Democrats have said it themselves. 

Eliminating the filibuster would “be the end of the Senate.”  That’s a direct quote from the Senior Senator from Illinois in 2018.

The Democrat Leader, before assuming his current position, said that eliminating the filibuster would “be a doomsday for Democracy.” 

And President Biden—when he was Senator Biden—said that, to eliminate the filibuster would be “the arrogance of power.”  Apparently he is now suffering from such arrogance.

Until they took control of the Senate last year, most Democrats passionately advocated for preserving this critical Senate rule.  That’s because it enables our representative government to function and reflect the will of the people. 

Indeed, in 2017, when there was a Republican in the Oval Office, and a Republican Majority in the Senate, 32 Democrats, including then-Senator Kamala Harris, signed a letter supporting the filibuster.

During the Trump Administration, Democrats routinely used the filibuster to block Republican legislation, including bills on police reform, border security, and late-term abortion—important bills that impacted life, sovereignty, and community safety.  Bills that Republicans wanted to enact. 

Yet, when met with a filibuster, Republicans didn’t change the rules on a completely partisan basis. Republicans didn’t tear down this institution in order to score short-term partisan points. And Republicans certainly didn’t use cheap demagoguery to create a fake hysteria to justify doing so.

Yet, now that Democrats are in the majority, nearly every one of those 32 Democrats has completely reversed himself or herself on this issue, with a few notable exceptions.

Why?  Because this is about one thing: power.  Doing the exact same thing is a doomsday for democracy when it’s a bill they oppose, but essential to save democracy when it’s a bill they support.  It’s about power.

There doesn’t seem to be a power grab that is too extreme for the modern Left—whether it’s abolishing the filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, or making the District of Columbia a state.  There is no institution they aren’t willing to destroy.

This is shameful because Democrat leaders’ past statements show that they know that destroying the Senate would be disastrous for our nation. 

Let’s call this what it is: It’s worse than a solution in search of a problem; it’s a power grab in search of a crisis.  In this case, they had to manufacture a crisis to justify the power grab.

They’ve been trying to pass this bill for years.  Democrat operatives first introduced a version of this bill on January 24, 2017, four days after President Trump took office, as part of their scorched-earth policy to challenge the 2016 election results, clinging to the false claim of Russian collusion.  Since then, they’ve continued to maniacally, and on a wholly partisan basis, push this electioneering fantasy. 

Even though this bill is all about keeping power, they use whatever justification is most convenient at the moment—in 2017, it was President Trump and Russia; then in 2020, it was the pandemic; and now, it’s the preposterous claim that returning to pre-pandemic voting practices is the end of democracy?!

This election takeover would impose taxpayer-funded campaigns.  And it prohibits overwhelmingly popular, commonsense state voter ID laws.  What does nullifying voter ID laws and handing out taxpayer-funded campaign dollars have to do with voting rights? 

Last night, the Senator from Virginia pointed out that Republicans have always led the way on voting rights, so why not now?  Because this bill isn’t about protecting voting rights.  It’s about protecting politicians.  This isn’t the 14th Amendment; it’s Washington Democrats’ 14th attempt to take over elections in all 50 states for the third different reason in the last several years.

Americans want laws that make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.  Such laws currently exist throughout the country.  That’s why we had record-breaking voter participation in 2020, including in my home state of Tennessee.

Unlike many in Washington, the American people have common sense.  So, ask yourself, with more Americans voting in the last election than ever before, why is this Democrats’ top priority?  Why are they willing to destroy the Senate to do it? 

What’s the real reason they are focusing on this made-up crisis, while ignoring actual crises of inflation, falling real wages, soaring energy prices, supply-chain crises, a collapsed southern border, the collapse of Afghanistan, and increased authoritarian aggression around the world—real problems that actually affect the American people?

Democrat leaders have tuned out those concerns.  They’re taking no action to address them.

Think about it—our country has the highest inflation rate in 40 years and the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over our nation’s monetary policy, has not held a single hearing examining this crisis since it began in 2021.

To avoid those issues, they’ve created a fake crisis to take over elections—a desperate attempt at self-preservation because Americans are rejecting their agenda.  That’s the real reason Democrats are pushing this—it’s about protecting the power of politicians here in Washington. 

Elections should be determined by the voters, not the politicians.

The phoniness of these motives is eclipsed only by the absurdity of most of the rhetoric. 

Last week, President Biden traveled to Georgia to demonize all Americans who don’t submit to his hyper-partisan political agenda.  He ranted that Americans who support the constitutional system of free, fair, and locally run elections are somehow bigots.

Similarly, in support of his scheme, the Democrat Leader offers the specious talking point that state legislatures don’t have filibuster rules, so why should the United States Senate?  He knows the obvious answer to his question: because federal legislation governing all 50 states—as opposed to state legislation affecting just one state—requires broader support—more than a bare majority in a 50-50 Senate. 

This is the greatest nation on earth, and the Senate is its compass.  This isn’t the Democrat Leader’s political plaything, Mr. President.

Ensuring broad support for federal laws—which ensures American stability—is the very purpose of the U.S. Senate.

Sadly, this election power grab is just the start. With the filibuster gone, Democrats would be free to enact mass amnesty, pack the Supreme Court, pack the Senate, punish law enforcement officers, and much, much more.

It was my hope coming into this New Year that the Senate would refocus on what we were elected to do—listen to the American people and address their concerns.

Yet the recent rhetoric of Democrat leadership has dispelled any such optimism.

The American people deserve a government that acknowledges their concerns and works tirelessly and constructively to address them. The serious problems we face today as a nation demand it.

Americans want us to do our jobs.

Abolishing the Senate’s rules that guarantee debate and compromise would be ”the end of the Senate”, as the senior Senator from Illinois put it.  It would do irreparable harm to the fabric of our government, and to the cohesion of our nation.

I hope my colleagues find the strength and courage to maintain their previous, longstanding support for preserving the Senate’s role.  I hope they reject this cynical move to steamroll half of its members and the voters they represent.

Thank you, Mr. President.