McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel MORE (R-Ky.) is pushing back against the emerging push to abolish the filibuster, saying that Democrats should consider retooling their "half-baked proposals" if they're frustrated by long-standing Senate tradition. 

"A Democratic assault on the legislative filibuster would make the nomination fights look like child’s play," McConnell wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday about the rule that requires 60 votes for the Senate to end debate on a bill. 

"That’s because systematically filibustering nominees was not an old tradition but a modern phenomenon, pioneered in 2003 by Democrats who opposed President George W. Bush. When Republicans followed suit and held up a handful of Obama nominees the same way, Democrats could not stomach their own medicine and began a 'nuclear' exchange that Republicans had to end," he added.


The op-ed comes as Democrats, including some 2020 presidential candidates, express an openness to eliminating the filibuster if they gain a majority in the Senate. Many have asserted that the rule has thwarted the party from voting on legislation addressing America's most pressing issues, such as climate change and gun control. 

McConnell dismissed those arguments, saying in a lengthy critique that the filibuster is part of a tradition in the upper chamber that values deliberation over efficiency.

"The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition," he wrote, before arguing that "my Republican colleagues and I have not and will not vandalize this core tradition for short-term gain."

McConnell opened his op-ed by noting that he warned former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) against eliminating the filibuster for most presidential appointees in 2013. 

"When appeals to principle fell on deaf ears, I tried a practical argument. The political winds shift often, I reminded my Democratic friends. And I doubted they’d like their new rules when the shoe was on the other foot," McConnell said. 

He added that Republicans retook the majority in the Senate just a year later, with President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE entering the White House in 2017. Republicans that year eliminated the filibuster for all Supreme Court nominees, which McConnell called the Reid precedent's "logical conclusion."

The senator argues that the legacy of Reid's move is the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe ACLU's civil war over old values: Free speech only for the woke? McConnell sparks new Supreme Court fight Supreme Court confounding its partisan critics MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Gorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Supreme Court justice denies Colorado churches' challenge to lockdown authority MORE, as well as 43 new lifetime circuit judges. 

McConnell concludes his op-ed by denouncing Democrats for embracing an idea that "was recently fringe nonsense," saying that Americans "must never let this radical movement gain enough power to vandalize the Senate."

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (D-N.Y.) in July signaled an openness to ending the filibuster if Democrats retook the upper chamber, saying that "nothing" would be off the table. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Democratic patience runs out on bipartisan talks NYC progressives anxiously watch Maya Wiley's ascent MORE (D-Mass.) in April became the first presidential candidate to back eliminating the rule. Reid wrote in an op-ed in the Times earlier this month that the rule has turned the Senate into an "unworkable legislative graveyard."