Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) attend an event in the Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 3, 2021.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Tuesday (March 16) that if Democrats repeal the “filibuster rules,” as progressives have called for, they will not be able to do so. “If Democrats repeal the filibuster rules, as progressives are demanding, they will turn the Senate into a “100-car wreck” and prevent it from doing “even the most basic things.”
Senator McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, made the comments in a speech on Tuesday, Foxnews reported. It was similar to comments he made earlier in the growing debate over repealing the delaying tactics rule.
So let me make this very clear to my 99 colleagues,” he said. No one serving in this chamber can imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like.” “None of us, for one minute, has worked in a Senate that has completely lost its comity and approval, a body that requires unanimous consent to turn on the lights and make speeches before noon.”
McConnell added, “I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every task, every item requires a quorum. The vice president, by the way, is not involved in determining a quorum. This chaos will not open a fast track to liberal change …… The Senate will be more like a crash site where 100 cars collide in a row and no one can move a muscle.”
In January, McConnell made a similar threat while negotiating an organizational resolution with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate majority leader. At the Time, McConnell demanded that the agreement include a written commitment to protect the “delaying tactics rule,” but he relented after several Democratic senators promised to maintain the 60-vote threshold necessary to pass the bill.
Now, progressives are again urging Democrats to abandon that approach. Some see it as the key to forcing the Senate to cooperate. But some Democrats say it’s a legacy of the Jim Crow era. Notable among them is Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. In an interview with Fox News Sunday earlier this month, he said that while he still supports the “delaying tactics rule,” he hopes that future use of political “delaying tactics” will make He said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that while he still supports the “delaying tactics rule,” he hopes to make future political “delaying tactics” “more painful” for users.
Manchin said, “Maybe you have to stand there (for a long time).” This clearly opens the door to eliminating the current “rules of procedure for obstruction” and using “standing” (standing) to obstruct proceedings. The current “delaying tactics rule” forces the Senate to have 60 votes to end debate on a piece of legislation, and only forces the senators who are doing the delaying tactics to vote against ending debate.
The practice of “standing” or “talking” for long stretches of time is essentially a way for minority members to keep occupying the Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill once debate is over. The vote. But if they do lose the rule that allows them to keep speaking, the majority can arrange for a simple majority vote to end debate and pave the way for passage of the bill.
Pressure to repeal the obstruction bill is coming not only from progressive radicals, but even from top Democrats in the Senate. In a speech on the Senate floor Monday (March 15), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Majority Whip, attacked the obstructionist bill.
“Today, nearly 65 years after Strom Thurmond’s marathon defense of Jim Crow, obstructionism continues to make a mockery of American democracy. The ‘delaying tactics rule’ continues to be abused by some senators to prevent the passage of legislation that is desperately needed and supported by the vast majority of the American people. This is what it looks like when the legislature hits bottom. Today’s obstruction of lengthy speeches has turned the world’s most prudent institution into one of the world’s most incompetent.”
The proposal to eliminate the “delaying tactics rule” would end the overall ability of minorities to try to block any legislation. The rule is essentially a test of will established between the minority and majority on whether a piece of legislation should pass.
McConnell on Tuesday cited Durbin’s 2018 interview with ABC as saying that the rules of procedure for obstruction are critical to the Senate.
“I can tell you that this will be the end of the Senate because it was originally designed and created from our founding fathers,” Durbin said of repealing the “delaying tactics rule.” “We have to recognize the respect we have for the minority, and that’s something the Senate is going to try to do in its composition and its procedures.”
McConnell also quoted Schumer as saying that obstruction of proceedings is “the most important difference between the House and the Senate.” He also warned that “the reality is that the majority will not be permanent.”