Jan 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (R), Democrat of New York, right, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, attend a joint session of Congress

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

What we're hearing: Centrist Democrats Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) privately indicated to McConnell their long-held views that they would not vote to end the filibuster, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

  • McConnell seized on those promises as an escape hatch, as well as leverage to use over the members in case Democrats take up the issue in the coming months.
  • McConnell will give a longer take on the filibuster in his floor remarks Tuesday.

What they're saying: "Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster," McConnell said in a statement late Monday evening.

  • "With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.”
  • Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a follow-up statement: “We’re glad Senator McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand. We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.” 

What's next: Expect a detailed power-sharing accord to be announced this week, modeled after the 2001 Senate agreement between senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott.

Go deeper