McConnell Issues Stark Warning to Senate Democrats Over Filibuster

Posted: Mar 16, 2021 1:30 PM
McConnell Issues Stark Warning to Senate Democrats Over Filibuster

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) brought the receipts to highlight Senate Democrats’ hypocrisy on the legislative filibuster, a 60-vote threshold for major legislation, which the majority caucus now hopes to abolish.

“The legislative filibuster is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House. Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No senator would like to see that happen. So let's find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, quoting Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) from 2017.

High-ranking Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also previously offered public support for the filibuster.

“I can tell you that would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers. We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure,” Durbin said in 2018.

McConnell went on to issue a staunch warning to Democrats if the filibuster were to be eliminated.

“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like...And then there’s the small matter that majorities are never permanent. The last time a Democratic Leader was trying to start a ‘nuclear’ exchange, I offered a warning. I said my colleagues would regret it a lot sooner than they think. And just a few years and a few Supreme Court vacancies later, many of our Democratic colleagues said publicly that they did. Touching the hot stove again would yield the same result. But even more dramatic,” McConnell said, warning that “As soon as Republicans wound up back in the saddle, we wouldn’t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country. We’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero input from the other side. Nationwide right-to-work for working Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities on day one. A whole new era of domestic energy production. Sweeping new protections for conscience and the right to life of the unborn. Concealed-carry reciprocity in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Massive hardening of security on our southern border.”

While Republicans were in the majority, McConnell refused to allow his caucus to abolish the filibuster, despite pressure to do so, in fairness to the minority, as he reminded Democrats.

“My colleagues and I have refused to kill the Senate for instant gratification. In 2017 and 2018 I was lobbied to do exactly what Democrats want to do now. A sitting president leaned on me to do it. I said no. Because being a U.S. Senator comes with higher duties than steamrolling any obstacle to short-term power.”

Thus far, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have voiced opposition to eliminating the filibuster, but leadership still hopes to.