Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave remarks at his office’s annual Christmas party Monday night at the NRSC, and according to an attendee, McConnell said that people overestimate what Republicans can do even though the GOP will have majorities in both chambers of Congress in January. The Kentucky Republican also said that when they reconvene, they will return the Senate to “business as usual.”
Comparing Americans’ present expectations of the GOP to when Republicans took the House in 2010, McConnell told the room that too many people thought four years ago that “now we can run the government.” According to the attendee, people in the room laughed at that statement.
Additionally, McConnell stressed that even with the power of the gavel next month, he will need to find 6 Democratic votes to get things done and that it will not be easy. In the near term, he said, “Republicans have to learn how to pass Republican appropriations bills.” He continued, “I have some members who don’t even want to pass appropriations bills.” McConnell warned that if this happens, “then I have to go to Harry Reid and the first thing he does is start stripping out riders and things that we want.”
When asked about the speech, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News, while noting the gathering was private and he did not have a transcript of the Senator’s exact words, “He’s said several times on the record, including in a joint op-ed with the Speaker, that we’ll be considering House-passed jobs bills. Many of those are bipartisan and will get 60 votes including Democrat votes. Same with Keystone. Obamacare repeal, on the other hand, won’t get 60 votes, but we will vote on it.”
In regards to whether McConnell would like to see the filibuster rules changed back, Stewart says that GOP members have already been meeting about the issue, and McConnell will be discussing it with his members today at their weekly meeting. Incoming Minority Leader Harry Reid changed the filibuster rules for federal nominees in the spring so only a simple majority, as opposed to 60 votes, would be needed to confirm appointees.
Some Republicans have already weighed in on the filibuster issue. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told radio’s Hugh Hewitt recently:
I would not have exercised the nuclear option if I were a Democrat. I didn’t agree with it at the time. I would have preserved the filibuster. But once the Democrats have done so, I don’t think it makes any sense for us to go back, because what will happen if we do that, is it becomes a one-way ratchet. It becomes, there’s a 60 vote threshold for confirming Republican nominees, and a 50 vote threshold for confirming Democratic nominees. And it doesn’t make any sense. The rules need to be the same for both parties. I think it was a mistake for Harry Reid to do, but once he did it, the rules should apply equally to both parties.
In May Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Breitbart News they would like to see the filibuster rules restored. On the other hand, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would like to give Democrats a dose of their own medicine and “teach a lesson to those Democrats who have never been in the minority what its like to be in the minority, how important those rules are.” More recently, Hatch wrote in Politico, “… requiring 60 votes for nominations will do nothing to undo recent institutional damage–both to the Senate and to the courts–and will only invite further destruction of the upper chamber and the system of government we have sworn to defend.”