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McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs Obama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently MORE (R-Ky.) warned Democrats on Tuesday not to mess with the filibuster rule if they win control of the chamber in November.

He said eliminating the legislative filibuster by reducing the 60-vote threshold for passing bills to a simple majority would be a serious mistake.

“The important thing for our Democratic friends to remember is that you may not be in total control in the future, and anytime you start fiddling around with the rules of the Senate, I think you always need to put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes and just imagine what might happen when the wind shifts,” McConnell told reporters when asked about an uptick in discussions among Democrats about changing the filibuster rule if former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs MORE wins the White House and they capture the Senate.

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McConnell defended his decision in 2017 to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees, arguing that the controversial rules change brought the Senate back to its long-standing tradition of confirming justices by simple majority votes.

McConnell also argued that his decision to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees — a move that came after his predecessor, former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Nev.), ended the minority party’s power to filibuster executive branch and most judicial nominees — wasn’t really revolutionary.

He noted that filibusters of judicial and executive branch nominees were a recent phenomenon.

“Even though it was possible on the executive calendar to filibuster nominees, it just wasn’t done until Bush 43 got elected,” he said, referring to former President George W. Bush.

McConnell said Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Collins urges voters to turn out in Georgia runoffs Protect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package MORE (D-N.Y.), who was elected to the Senate in 1998, was the “ringleader” of shifting Senate strategy on opposing presidential nominees during the Bush administration.

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“What would be a revolution and turn the Senate into the House would be to change the legislative filibuster," he said. "So do I feel strongly about it? You bet.”

“If there are any responsible Democratic senators left who aren’t going to be stampeded by the hard left, they ought to take a pause and think about whether they really think it’s a good idea for the country to put the one institution that guarantees that America stayed in the middle of the road into the same place as the House,” he said.

Asked if he would consider changing the legislative filibuster if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE wins reelection and Republicans keep control of the Senate, McConnell ruled it out.

“I consistently said no to the current president on that issue, and he tweeted about me a number of times, which I greatly appreciated,” McConnell said, wryly joking about Trump’s excoriating tweets about his refusal to change the rules.