Dick Durbin calls absolute protection of Senate filibuster 'a non-starter’
Senator Dick Durbin said Sunday that Mitch McConnell's call for absolute filibuster protection when running a 50:50 Senate was a "non-runner".
"If we gave him that, the filibuster would be on everything every day," said the Illinois Democrat on Sunday morning to NBC's Chuck Todd at "Meet the Press."
McConnell has been pressuring Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the past few days to keep the 60-vote threshold in order to reach an agreement on the organization of the Senate. While the Senate Democrats have no plans to further eviscerate the filibuster, they have signaled that they would reject McConnell's efforts to protect the filibuster as they are useful for compromising with Republicans.
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Durbin said even though Schumer was offering McConnell "word for word" the same deal it had the last time there was a 50:50 Senate, McConnell came back and still wanted absolute protection for the filibuster.
"Well, that's a non-runner," said Durbin.
The Senate last stood at 50:50 in early 2001, and Republican Vice President Dick Cheney cast decisive votes. That lasted until May when Vermont's Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party and began meeting with Senate Democrats to give them a 51:49 head start.
Durbin said changing the rule should be considered if the filibuster becomes too common - which ultimately prevents the Senate from acting. But he said Democrats must first "see if we can initiate real bipartisan dialogue and get something done."
He added that the Senate should pass the organization resolution without the additional McConnell language to protect the filibuster so that the focus can be put on passing President Joe Biden's massive Covid-19 bailout package.
"Let's get down to business, roll up our sleeves and pass this bailout to get these vaccines across America as soon as possible, help people who are unemployed and help businesses," said Durbin.
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