Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stood up against the Democrats’ plan to demolish the filibuster.
During a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 16, he slammed their idea. He said the Senate would become a “100-car pileup,” and “even the most basic aspects” of its business would be blocked should Democrats give in to progressives and eliminate the legislative filibuster, as reported by Fox News
“So let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues. Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said. “None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity and consent. This is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon, to proceed with a garden-variety floor speech.”
He continued, “I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every single task, every one of them, requires a physical quorum. Which, by the way, the vice president does not count in determining a quorum. This chaos would not open up an express lane for liberal change … The Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup, nothing moving.”
The call to abolish the filibuster is not only being heard from the progressive activists, but even some top Democrats in the Senate are in agreement. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), on the Senate floor on Monday attacked the filibuster during a speech, said he prefers a “standing filibuster.”
This requires the minority party attempting to block legislation to constantly hold the Senate floor to end the debate on a bill.
“Today, nearly 65 years after Strom Thurmond’s marathon defense of Jim Crow, the filibuster is still making a mockery of American democracy. The filibuster is still being misused by some senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by strong majorities of the American people,” he said. “This is what hitting legislative rock bottom looks like. Today’s filibusters have turned the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies.” said Durbin.
“If a senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he [or she] should have to pay some minimal price of being present. No more phoning it in,” Durbin said. “If your principles are that important, stand up for them, speak your mind, hold the floor, and show your resolve.”
McConnell referred to a 2018 interview Durbin conducted with the ABC, in which he said the filibuster is essential to the Senate, Fox News reports.
“I can tell you that would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers,” Durbin said of getting rid of the filibuster. “We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that although he supports the filibuster, he would prefer to see it “more painful” politically to use.
“Maybe you have to stand there,” Manchin said.
McConnell pointed out that “majorities are actually never permanent” and said when Republicans gain control of the Senate they would have no intention to erase every liberal change but would instead put into effect preferred policies with “zero input for the other side.”
“My colleagues and I have refused to kill the Senate for instant gratification. In 2017 and 2018 I was lobbied to do exactly what Democrats want to do now. A sitting president leaned on me to do it. He tweeted about it,” McConnell said. “I said no repeatedly. Because becoming a U.S. senator comes with higher duties than steamrolling any obstacles to short-term power.”
He added, “I meant it. Republicans meant it. Less than two months ago, two of our Democratic colleagues said they mean it too. If they keep their word, we have a bipartisan majority that can put principle first and keep the Senate safe.”