Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell defends filibuster: "You don’t destroy the Senate for fleeting advantage"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday condemned Democratic support for abolishing the legislative filibuster, arguing that it would create a "scorched-earth Senate."

Why it matters: Many Democrats are pushing to use their newfound majority to eliminate the 60-vote threshold needed for major legislation, which would make it easier to pass progressive priorities. Resistance from Republicans and moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.) has made that unlikely.

The big picture: McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week appeared unable to reach a power-sharing agreement to organize the Senate after McConnell demanded a written commitment that Democrats would not abolish the filibuster.

  • McConnell dropped the demand on Monday night. Schumer cast this as a win, but McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday that he only did so because he had received public commitments not to abolish the filibuster from Sinema and Manchin.
  • Proponents of the filibuster argue it protects the interests of the minority party, while opponents say it kneecaps lawmakers from passing legislation.

What they're saying: "If your legislation can't pass the Senate, you don't scrap the rules or lower the standards. You improve your idea, take your case to the people, or both," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

  • "Four years ago, Republicans had just won unified control. President Trump and others pressured us heavily, me in particular, to scrap this rule when it was protecting the Democratic minority," McConnell continued.
  • "But we stood firm. I stood firm, endured many tweets on the subject. I said we would not do that to our colleagues in the minority. No short term policy win justifies destroying the Senate as we know it."
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