Mitch McConnell: If Democrats Kill the Filibuster on Partisan Lines, They Will ‘Release Furies They Can Barely Imagine’

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference with other Senate Republicans at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on December 15, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CAROLINE BREHMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
CAROLINE BREHMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday titled “The Scorched-Earth Senate,” saying “[i]f Democrats kill the filibuster by 50-50 vote, they’ll release furies they can barely imagine.”

McConnell emphasized what his colleague, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said in April 2017: “The legislative filibuster is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House.”

“There’s so much emphasis on the most extreme bills that either party might pass with a simple majority that people forget the Senate’s 60-vote threshold is the only reason that any routine, must-pass legislation is bipartisan when the government is united,” McConnell urged. “Big funding deals, appropriation bills, farm bills, highway bills, the defense authorization bill — the 60-vote threshold of Senate Rule 22 backstops all of it.”

The Kentucky Republican called out the Democrats in the Senate pressuring Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to change their commitment to keeping the filibuster, saying it will make a “radically less stable and less consensus-driven system of government.”

McConnell feels no one in the Senate could imagine what a “scorchedearth Senate” would be if the filibuster came to an end:

None of us have served one minute in the 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, to dispense with the reading of lengthy legislative texts, to schedule committee business, to move even uncontroversial nominees at faster than a snail’s pace.

He further recalled the warning he gave to the Democrats last time Republicans were the minority in the Senate and Harry Reid was the majority leader:

And then there’s the small problem that majorities are never permanent. The last time a Democratic majority leader was trying to start a nuclear exchange — Harry Reid in 2013 — I offered a warning. I said my colleagues would regret it a lot sooner than they thought. A few years and a few Supreme Court vacancies later, many of our Democratic colleagues admitted publicly that they did.

If the Democrats kill the legislative filibuster, history would repeat itself, but more dramatically. As soon as Republicans wound up back in control, we wouldn’t stop at erasing every liberal change that hurt the country. We’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero input from the other side.

The Kentucky Republican wrote the Republicans “refused to kill the Senate for instant gratification” when President Donald Trump had lobbied him to kill the filibuster. Refusing to end the filibuster is part of being a senator, with “higher duties than steamrolling any obstacle to short-term power,” he concluded.

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