Frustrated by their inability to push partisan election reform measures through the evenly split Senate, Democratic leaders in Congress’ upper chamber are pushing for an end to the body’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 senators to vote in favor of moving forward with a bill before it can advance to the floor. But Republicans are doing everything they can to keep the tradition alive.
According to Fox News, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that if Democrats take the “nuclear option” in killing the filibuster, members of his caucus will do everything they can to grind progress in the upper chamber to a halt.
Schumer weighs his options
The remarks from McConnell came in response to efforts led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push through sweeping, partisan “voting rights” bills that members of the GOP have largely opposed.
Politico reported Wednesday that Sen. Schumer is considering a few different options for getting the election bills passed, but in any case, he would need all 50 members of the Democratic caucus — plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris — in order to succeed.
Schumer is reportedly weighing abolishing the filibuster completely, transforming it into a “talking” filibuster in which the minority party must continuously hold the Senate floor to block legislation from moving forward, or introducing certain “carve-outs,” such as one for voting rights issues, that would eliminate the normal 60-vote threshold and require only a simple majority for passing a measure.
Unfortunately for Schumer, he has already faced opposition to those plans from some within his own caucus, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Now, he’s also facing the serious threat of complete Senate gridlock from McConnell.
McConnell says GOP will shut Senate down
Speaking Tuesday on the Senate floor, McConnell contended that the filibuster is a key tool for the minority that encourages bipartisanship and compromise.
If Democrats seek to unravel it, McConnell said, they’ll face severe repercussions.
“If my colleague tries to break the Senate” rules to effectively silence Republican voters, “we will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory,” McConnell said, according to a transcript provided by his office.
“A post-nuclear Senate would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it,” the GOP leader added.
Do my colleagues understand how many times per day the Senate needs and gets unanimous consent for basic housekeeping? Do they understand how many things could require roll call votes? How often the minority could demand lengthy debate?
“If the Democratic leader tries to shut millions of Americans and entire states out of the business of governing, the operations of this body will change. Oh, yes. That much is true,” the minority leader vowed. “But not in ways that reward the rule-breakers. Not in ways that advantage this president, this majority, or their party. I guarantee it.”