McConnell: Democrats would ‘disfigure’ Senate by nixing filibuster

Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ripped Democrats on Monday over talk of nixing the legislative filibuster if they win back the majority even as they’ve used the procedural tactic to block recent GOP legislation.

“This threat to permanently disfigure, to disfigure the Senate, has been the latest growing drumbeat in the modern Democratic Party’s war against our governing institutions,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Progressive activists, backed by a growing number of Democratic senators, are calling to use the “nuclear option” to nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster if Democrats win back the Senate majority in November.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn’t ruled out doing so but argued the focus for now should be on the election. It is unclear if they’ll have the support, with several Democratic senators opposed to getting rid of the filibuster. 

McConnell argued that Democrats’ interest in nixing the higher procedural threshold is “the most shameless hypocrisy” and “Grade A hypocrisy” after they used the legislative filibuster in recent weeks to block GOP police reform and coronavirus relief legislation, both of which failed along party lines.

McConnell’s warning about the potential that Democrats could get rid of the legislative filibuster comes as the GOP leader is fighting to hold on to his Senate majority. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 margin in the Senate but are playing defense in several states.

McConnell has pledged that he and Senate Republicans will be a “firewall” if they hold on to the chamber, characterizing himself as the “Grim Reaper” for progressive policies.

On Monday, he warned that Democrats, if they control both the House and Senate and Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the White House, would try to “hot-wire” American democracy by reforming the Supreme Court or making Washington, D.C., a state.

“Today’s Democrats have lost patience with playing by the rules and want to wage war on the rulebook itself,” McConnell said.

Democrats in 2013 used the “nuclear option” to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster for most nominations. Republicans got rid of the same hurdle for Supreme Court nominations in 2017.

McConnell has faced pressure from some of his own members and President Trump to get rid of the legislative filibuster, which they view as a wall blocking top conservative policies.

But the GOP leader has repeatedly said that he supports keeping the filibuster and that there are not enough votes within the Republican caucus to get rid of it. Republicans have used reconciliation, a budgetary tactic that requires only a simple majority, to try to pass health care and to pass their 2017 tax bill.

“There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar” on legislation, McConnell told reporters in 2017

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump fillbuster Joe Biden Mitch McConnell

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