Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a warning Tuesday to Senate Democrats who want to abolish the filibuster.
“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” the Kentucky Republican said, according to The Hill.
“I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every single task, every one of them, requires a physical quorum.”
A filibuster is a loosely defined term for an action designed to prolong debate or delay a vote, according to the official Senate website. A three-fifths majority, or 60 votes, is needed to end the filibuster.
A growing number of Senate Democrats have voiced their desire to end the practice, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.
“The filibuster has a death grip on American democracy,” the Illinois Democrat tweeted Monday.
“It’s time we end its power to hold the Senate hostage.”
The filibuster has a death grip on American democracy. It’s time we end its power to hold the Senate hostage. pic.twitter.com/DGZduFqRic
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) March 15, 2021
Durbin added that the filibuster “promotes gridlock, not good governance,” according to Fox News.
Democrats don’t currently have the votes to get rid of the filibuster on a party-line vote, as both moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they oppose taking such measures, The Hill reported.
Senate Democrats are worried that several of President Joe Biden’s big campaign promises will not get through, because they need the support of 10 Republican senators in order to pass any legislation with the 60-vote filibuster rule still in place.
However, McConnell warned that getting rid of the filibuster would not guarantee a “fast-track” for Biden’s agenda and would instead create more gridlock.
“So this is not a trade-off between trampling etiquette but then getting to quickly transform the country. That’s a false choice,” he said.
“Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane task of the Biden presidency, would actually be harder not easier.”
“This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a 100-car pile up, nothing moving,” McConnell added.
The minority leader cautioned his colleagues against walking this path, saying that the next time Republicans are the majority party, they could quickly pass conservative policies.
“So the pendulum … would swing both ways, and it would swing hard,” McConnell said.
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