Aug 22, 2019

Mitch McConnell defends the Senate filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to stop considering abolishing the filibuster Thursday, arguing "America needs the Senate to be the Senate" in a New York Times op-ed.

The state of play: The Kentucky senator, responding to calls to from his predecessor Harry Reid and a number of 2020 contenders to end the filibuster to move forward Democratic proposals on gun control and climate change, said it was "their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling."

The big picture: In 2013, Reid eliminated the use of the filibuster for most federal judicial nominees — except for the Supreme Court. McConnell then nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court and Cabinet appointments once Republicans regained control of the chamber.

  • That allowed Republicans to install two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In addition, per NPR, President Trump has appointed a quarter of federal appeals judges and 1 in 7 federal district court judges.
  • McConnell admits that he took advantage: "The consequences of taking Senator Reid’s advice will haunt liberals for decades."

Other highlights:

  • "Our country doesn’t need a second House of Representatives with fewer members and longer terms. America needs the Senate to be the Senate."
  • "I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power. Certainly it is curious that liberals are choosing this moment, when Americans have elected Republican majorities three consecutive times and counting, to attack the minority’s powers."
  • "If future Democrats shortsightedly decide to reduce the Senate to majority rule, we’ll have lost a key safeguard of American government."

Go deeper: Where 2020 Democrats stand on ending the Senate filibuster

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2020 Dems' new climate plans need the Senate to succeed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The last 24 hours brought a burst of climate plans from 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls — along with reminders of why some of the most ambitious proposals won’t happen unless the Senate flips too.

Why it matters: They signal how the field would go far beyond the Obama era in seeking to sharply drive down U.S. emissions, restricting fossil fuels and spurring a sweeping transition to zero-carbon fuels.

Go deeperArrowSep 4, 2019

Democrats step up pressure for Republicans to act on gun control

House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks to members of the press. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Democrats increased pressure on Republicans Tuesday to act on gun control, advancing new measures and sending a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell. But McConnell made clear after meeting with President Trump on the issue that the decision rests with Trump, ABC News reports.

Why it matters: Gun violence has become a hot-button issue after August's mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and the West Texas sister cities of Odessa and Midland. Per Reuters, there's a coordinated Democratic strategy to press McConnell to allow a vote on gun control bills.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019

Nancy Pelosi's next target: Mitch McConnell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will escalate her caucus' anti-Mitch McConnell messaging this fall, testing a theory that this can be more effective than just continuing the party's anti-Trump rhetoric, Democratic leadership aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are still divided over how much to focus on President Trump ahead of the 2020 elections — and they're aware that "Trump fatigue" could mean that their attacks will bring diminishing returns.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 16, 2019