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Strange changes position on US Senate filibuster rule

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange announced to supporters in an email this week that he no longer supports the filibuster rule that requires 60 senators to vote for cloture on debate in the Senate.

“The Senate filibuster rule is stopping President Trump from achieving our conservative agenda!” the email read. “Obstructionist tactics by liberal Democrats and even some Republicans are preventing important legislation from reaching the Senate floor.

“Alabamians support President Trump, and the filibuster rule is threatening his agenda, along with our conservative values!”

The move aligns Strange with President Donald Trump who called for the “outdated” filibuster rule to be scrapped through a tweet in July amid debate on a new healthcare bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act pushed for by former President Barack Obama.

Trump endorsed Strange in the party primaries through a tweet in July.

The move is a switch from Strange’s previous position of upholding the tradition of the Senate.

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Strange, along with 61 other senators, signed a letter in April sent to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urging them to keep the filibuster rule.

A letter to U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., from senators urging them to keep filibuster rules.

“We are writing to urge you to support our efforts to preserve existing rules, practices, and traditions to the right of Members to engage in extended debate on legislation before the United States Senate,” the letter read.

The letter was an attacking point by long-time Strange critic state Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, who criticized Strange at a press conference in July for signing the letter. Henry said that Strange’s support of the filibuster was an obstacle to Trump’s agenda.

Henry, once a U.S. Senate candidate himself, endorsed U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL, in the U.S. Senate race and recently announced his endorsement of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore and Strange are both going head-to-head later this month in the Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant after Jeff Sessions’ appointment to U.S. attorney general.

Strange’s move also goes against McConnell who said Senate Republicans had no plans to scrap the rule at an August press conference.

The Super PAC Senate Leadership Fund, which has connections to McConnell, has funded pro-Strange ads in Alabama while also financing attack ads against his opponents, Moore and Brooks.

The Super PAC has spent millions in the Senate race and plans to run more ads leading up to the Republican runoff later this month.

While Strange switched his position, Trump also changed on the filibuster rule. Prior to his run for the White House, Trump criticized Obama in 2013 for bypassing the Senate filibuster rule.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Senate filibuster rule,” Trump wrote on Twitter in 2013. “Harry Reid & Obama killed it yesterday. Rule was in effect for over 200 years.”

Trump went on to write that Obama was a “hypocrite” and shared a video of Obama defending the filibuster rule.

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