In its second year of operation, the US Senate has taken steps to reduce the number of days a senator can be blocked from testifying, a move that has been supported by many conservatives but opposed by many liberals.
The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, introduced legislation last month that would make it easier for senators to be filibustered on the floor by limiting the number to two days, with an option to extend for up to 24 hours.
The move, which was approved by the full Senate on Monday, would also allow senators to challenge an obstructionist sitting member of the Judiciary Committee who is blocking the committee’s work.
But Democrats, including President Donald Trump, have been strongly opposed to the measure.
They argue that the legislation could be used to obstruct justice and impede the legislative process.
“Senate Democrats have always been on the side of truth,” Trump said during a speech to law enforcement officers on Tuesday, arguing that Democrats were “playing games” and attempting to “politicise” the judiciary.
He said that Democrats had made the Judiciary committee the “go-to place” for their obstructionist legislation, calling it “just another way to play politics”.
Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Democrats are trying to “foster a sense of partisanship” in the judiciary by using the bill to attack a sitting Republican member of Congress.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and chairman of the committee, told the Associated Press that Democrats’ attempts to “tarnish” the Senate judiciary committee had “a chilling effect” on the institution.
In a statement, Graham said the Republican senators had “tried to take away our ability to hold our senators accountable and to get to the truth of what is going on in the Senate”.
“The American people deserve better.
We need a functioning judiciary that reflects the views of the American people,” Graham said.
Senate Democrats on Monday accused Republicans of “disloyalty to the American way of life”.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, called for the Republicans to “do the right thing” by voting against the Judiciary bill, calling on the president to use executive authority to block the measure from taking effect.
“President Trump must act now and reject this dangerous, unconstitutional, and unconstitutional bill,” Schumer said.
“It is not just wrong; it is dangerous.”
Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, told reporters on Monday that he had “no problem with” the legislation, which he called “just a tool to block a filibuster”.
“We need to get the job done and this is a very important step in that process,” he said.
In the days since it was introduced, the Judiciary amendment has been blocked by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives.
But in the latest vote, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut was the only Republican to vote against the bill.
Democrats on the committee are not expected to vote on the bill again until next week, when it is expected to be considered by the Senate.