Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just failed the GOP.
First, he aided the loss of the Georgia Senate races by playing political games with the stimulus bill. Next, he toyed with the idea of a purely political and yet another sham impeachment, this time of a former president and now private citizen. Now, he has opened the door for progressives and Democrats to annihilate the filibuster and remove Republicans from the legislative discussion table.
At first, McConnell seemed to be standing up for the GOP, demanding that Senate Democrats promise to preserve the legislative filibuster, after years of threats that it would be removed, or he would object to a plan to organize the upper chamber. Just last year, the possibility of nuking the filibuster became more popular among Democrats, especially if Joe Biden were elected president and the opportunity to push through radical legislation without tangible opposition presented itself.
“I will not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration’s initiatives blocked at every turn,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in an interview with Politico. “I am gonna try really hard to find a path forward that doesn’t require removing what’s left of the structural guardrails, but if there’s a Biden administration, it will be inheriting a mess, at home and abroad. It requires urgent and effective action.”
“If we have a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democrat in the White House and the Republicans are trying to use the filibuster in order to block what the American people want to see us do, then it will be time to change the filibuster,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., threatened.
Now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, swiftly rejected McConnell’s condition, leaving the congressional leaders in a stalemate.
“We are not letting McConnell dictate how the Senate operates,” Schumer said.
After a days-long standoff, McConnell caved to Schumer’s plans on Monday, claiming the Democrats do not have the numbers to abolish the filibuster in the next two years.
“Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden’s and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation,” McConnell said in a statement. “The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.”
McConnell’s crumbling was welcomed by Schumer, who told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow mere hours before, “We’ve told McConnell ‘no’ on the organizing resolution, and that’s that. So there’s no negotiations on that. We’ve given him what he should do.” Schumer then hinted that there are ways to “deal” with McConnell if the minority leader does not comply.
No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021
McConnell, however, was unbothered by his clear surrender, reveling in his ability to get out of a tough spot during his time on the floor on Tuesday.
“Rather than relying on the Democratic leader, I took the discussion directly to his members. Basic arithmetic now ensures that there are not enough votes to break the rule,” McConnell told his colleagues. He continued his grandiose speech by noting all of the dangers of removing the filibuster from legislative processes.
“The same tool that some Democrats now want to destroy, they used freely and liberally throughout their years in the minority. … Republicans understood you don’t destroy the Senate for a fleeting advantage. Our friends across the aisle must see the same,” McConnell said. “If your legislation can’t pass the Senate, you don’t scrap the rules or lower the standards. You improve your idea, take your case to the people, or both.”
At a time when the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are blue, and big tech censorship is rampant, it is more important than ever that conservatives have a voice. But in a politically damaging move with years of consequences, McConnell just silenced the GOP.