McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms States begin removing Capitol's Confederate statues on their own Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal 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.

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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 ReidKamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule 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 John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation 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 KavanaughMcConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchBiden needs to bring religious Americans into the Democratic fold McConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report 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 SchumerGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers GOP super PAC launching August ad blitz Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package 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 WarrenBill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities The other reason Democrats want Biden to shun debates The Memo: Biden faces balancing act 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."