In one of his final acts as majority leader, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to keep the filibuster — the procedural tool that liberals and progressives are eager to to do away with so President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda can be approved more easily over GOP opposition.
McConnell has told Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that retaining the legislative filibuster is important and should be part of their negotiations for a power-sharing agreement in the narrowly divided Senate.
Schumer and McConnell met Tuesday to begin hammering out the details of organizing the chamber, which will be split 50-50, with Democrat Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote as vice president.
“Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said.
Andres said discussions on “all aspects” of the arrangement will continue.
Normally, a divided chamber would produce a resolution to equally share committee seats and other resources.
Schumer faces pressure from the progressive flank to end the filibuster, but he has not committed to doing so.
A Schumer spokesman, Justin Goodman, said that the Democratic leader “expressed that the fairest, most reasonable and easiest path forward” was an organizing agreement similar to the consensus adopted between the parties in 2001, the last time the Senate was evenly divided, without “extraneous changes from either side.”
The group Fix Our Senate criticized McConnell for trying to prevent procedural changes.
The group said in a statement that McConnell wants to keep the filibuster because he knows it is “the best weapon he has” to prevent Democrats from delivering on Biden’s priorities.
“Senate Democrats must swat away this absurd attempt to undermine their majority and kneecap the Biden agenda before it even has a chance to get started,” the group said in a statement.
The modern filibuster rules essentially require a super-majority threshold, now at 60 votes, to cut off debate in the Senate and bring legislative bills or other measures to a vote.
The practice was changed as a way to wind down long-running speeches and debates but quickly became a tool employed by minority factions to halt legislation that had majority support.
It’s unclear the Democrats would even have support from their ranks to undo the legislative filibuster, which would require a vote in the Senate.
McConnell has also been talking privately with Republican senators about the importance of resolving the issue now.
The Republican leader sent an email Monday to senators outlining his concerns, as first reported by National Review.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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