Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats that eliminating the filibuster in order to ram through progressive legislation would not benefit Democrats in the long term.
Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to block a pair of Democratic election reform bills currently stalled in the upper chamber.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, McConnell made clear that if the filibuster were amended or abolished, the Senate would bog down into a legislative “nuclear winter” where very little would actually get done.
“The Senate Democratic leader is trying to bully his own members into breaking their word, breaking the Senate, and silencing the voices of millions of citizens, so that one political party can take over our nation’s elections from the top down,” McConnell said of Schumer’s efforts to break the Senate filibuster.
McConnell continued, invoking the memory of the January 6th Capitol riot and describing how the Senate reconvened and went about its business after the riot was over.
He went on to excoriate Schumer and President Joe Biden for using “fake hysteria” and “Jim Crow” rhetoric to assail voting reforms like the ones passed in Georgia, which are less restrictive than election laws in states like New York and Delaware.
McConnell also pointed out that abolishing the legislative filibuster would shake the foundations of the Senate. He quoted late West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who said that “if the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping partisan legislation every time there is a change in political control. Our nation may never see stable governing again.”
“By breaking the Senate, [Schumer] wants to silence the voices of millions and millions of Americans,” McConnell reiterated, adding that Schumer wants to throw vast regions of the country who don’t agree with progressive policies into a “political power outage.”
McConnell then issued a stark warning to Schumer, saying that if the Majority Leader follows through on silencing the minority’s constituents, “we will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory.”
“What would a post-nuclear Senate look like?” McConnell asked rhetorically. “I assure you it would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it. Do my colleagues understand how many times per day the Senate needs and get unanimous consent for basic housekeeping? Do they understand how many things would require roll-call votes, how often the minority could demand lengthy debate? Our colleagues who are itching for a procedural nuclear winter have not even begun to contemplate how it would look. Our colleagues who are itching to drain every drop of collegiality from this body have not even begun to consider how that would work.”
“If the Democratic leader tries to shut millions of Americans and entire states out of the business of governing, the operations of this body will change. Oh yes, that much is true. But not in a way that rewards the rule-breakers. Not in ways that advantage this president, this majority, or their party. I guarantee it,” McConnell concluded.
McConnell previously outlined his argument in a memo to reporters Sunday. McConnell hammered “the left’s Big Lie” that Republican election reforms threatened democracy and the “fake hysteria” used to advance their filibuster vote.