Mitch McConnell Wants Democrats To Commit To Keeping Legislative Filibuster
Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell wants the Democrats to reassure them that once they take control of the Chamber on Wednesday they will retain the powerful legislative filibuster - a commitment he has not yet received.
McConnell met with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Who is to become the new majority leader, Tuesday to try to reach an agreement on Senate procedures and committee composition. They also discussed the timetable for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and hearings to confirm the cabinet candidates for President-elect Joe Biden.
According to a Schumer spokesman, both sides have made progress on the hearings and process issues. But they seemed stuck on procedural issues like the filibuster, the rule that allows 41 senators in the 100-member chamber to prevent bills from moving to a final vote.
Schumer "expressed that the fairest, sensible and easiest way forward is to adopt an organizational resolution" with no foreign changes from either side, "the spokesman said in a statement. In other words, Schumer refuses to let himself into the fate of the filibuster.
A series of swearing-in swings on Wednesday will transfer control of the Senate from the GOP, which has held a majority in the chamber since 2015, to the Democrats. After Kamala Harris, the Californian who resigned from her Senate seat on Monday, is sworn in as Vice President, she will succeed Democrat Alex Padilla and two Democrats from Georgia who were recently elected in a runoff election - Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock . Both the Senate Democratic caucus and Republicans will then each have 50 seats, with Harris assuming party control as chairman of the chamber.
If the filibuster is in place, having many key components of Biden's legislative agenda passed means it will need the support of 10 GOP senators - a major challenge in today's divided Washington.
The last time the Senate had a 50-50 was in 2001. At that time it took weeks for then-Sens. Tom Daschle (DS.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), The Chamber's party leaders, to get one Draw up a procedural agreement that did not include addressing the filibuster.
A similar delay would likely undo Biden's hopes for a swift confirmation of his cabinet candidates.
The filibuster is not mentioned in the constitution, but developed as a senate rule from the 19th century. Once rarely used, it has become an increasingly comprehensive part of the chamber process over the past few decades.
McConnell relied on it to thwart vital democratic initiatives when he served as a minority leader for the first six years of President Barack Obama's eight years in the White House. The Kentuckian seeks to keep this up while Biden puts forward a bold agenda that includes sweeping actions to fight the coronavirus, fight climate change, overhaul immigration laws and expand health care.
While meeting with Schumer on Tuesday, McConnell "expressed his long-standing view that the Senate’s crucial, long-standing, bipartisan rules regarding the legislative filibuster remain intact, especially during power-sharing for the next two years," said McConnell spokesman Doug Andres.
"Discussions on all aspects of the power-sharing agreement will continue for the next few days," added Andres.
While many leftists have pushed for the filibuster to be eliminated as soon as possible, some Democratic lawmakers have expressed their caution. In fact, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Reiterated his opposition to the filibuster's killing on Tuesday.
"This place is supposed to work bipartisan," Manchin told reporters. “The minority should have input. I've been here for 10 years and have seen where the minority has been horribly excluded and it's not right. We have to make it work. So I'll do everything I can to heal our country and bring people together. "
Biden himself said last year that his support for the extermination of the filibuster would "depend on how disobedient" Republicans become under his presidency.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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