Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a stark warning Tuesday about how Republicans would grind the chamber to a halt if Democrats changed the filibuster rules, leading to a “completely scorched earth Senate.”
The Kentucky Republican defended the 60-vote threshold on the legislative filibuster in a floor speech, cautioning Democrats that if they moved to change the rules of the filibuster, it would not open up an express lane for the Biden administration to push through their agenda. Instead, Republicans would use every rule and option at their disposal to halt the chamber, making the Senate “more like a 100-car pileup, nothing moving.”
Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters he’s not concerned about McConnell’s threats to slow the Senate if Democrats change the filibuster because “he has already done that.”
McConnell also laid out the conservative agenda Republicans would swiftly move on the next time they take control of Congress and White House, most of which Democrats would vehemently oppose – like defunding Planned Parenthood.
The pendulum would swing both ways, “and it would swing hard,” he warned.
McConnell listed some of the legislation his party would move on when they’re back in power.
“We wouldn’t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country – we’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero, zero input from the other side,” he said pointing to how the GOP would move swiftly to defund sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood, add new protections for the right to life of the unborn, work on concealed carry laws, and a new era of domestic energy production.”
He also noted that when former President Donald Trump pressured Republicans to eliminate the filibuster, Democrats were up in arms.
“My colleagues and I have refused to kill the Senate for instant gratification,” he said.
McConnell also asked whether Democrats truly believe the election of President Joe Biden and a 50-50 Senate is a sign that the American people want sweeping change.
“Does anyone really believe the American people were voting for an entirely new system of government by electing Joe Biden to the White House and a 50-50 senate? This is a 50-50 Senate. There was no mandate to completely transform America by the American people on November 3. That may be what a few liberal activists want, but does anyone believe that millions of Americans thought that’s what they were electing? Of course not.”
In a floor speech, Durbin pushed back hard on the Republican leader’s warnings, arguing it was McConnell’s abuse of the filibuster that led to Democrats’ frustration and desire to get rid of it.
“When Senator McConnell and others come to the floor and plead for us to hang on to the traditions of the Senate, I would tell you that their interpretation of the traditions is strangling this body,” he said, noting how many Democrats are frustrated by the current state of procedure that makes it exceedingly difficult to pass comprehensive legislation.
“If I became skeptical of the filibuster, it’s because of your use of it,” said the Illinois Democrat, speaking directly to McConnell. “And I hope that you understand that you can’t have it both ways. It can’t be a rare procedure and be a procedure that dominates the actual business of the Senate as this has done for so many years.”