McConnell Backs Off Senate Filibuster 01/26 08:19
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate
Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster, easing a
standoff with new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as the two negotiated a
power-sharing agreement in the closely divided chamber.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his
demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the
filibuster, easing a standoff with new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as the two
negotiated a power-sharing agreement in the closely divided chamber.
McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after
two Democratic senators said they would not agree to changing the rules to end
the filibuster, which would require a 60-vote threshold to advance most
legislation. Without the support of all Democratic senators, a rules change
"With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing
agreement modeled on that precedent," McConnell said in a statement. He did not
name the Democrats, but West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten
Sinema had expressed reservations to doing away with the tool.
Schumer's office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside
"We're glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous
demand," said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We look
forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting
big, bold things done for the American people."
The standoff between the two leaders all but ground the Senate to a halt in
the early days of the new Democratic majority as the two sides could not
organize the chamber's routine operations for committee assignments and
resources. The stalemate threatened President Joe Biden's ability to deliver on
his legislative agenda.
Usually a routine matter, the organizing resolution for the chamber became a
power play by McConnell once Democrats swept to control after the Jan. 5
special election in Georgia.
Even though McConnell did away with the 60-vote threshold to confirm
President Donald Trump's three nominees to the Supreme Court, he wanted to
prevent Democrats from doing the same with Biden's legislative agenda.
Democrats were under pressure from liberal advocates to do away with the
filibuster so they could more easily pass Biden's legislative priorities
without the need for Republican votes. The Democrats hold the slimmest of
majorities in the chamber, 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to
cast the tie-breaking vote.
Schumer had not said he would end the process, but McConnell was taking no
chances. McConnell made the brazen demand to keep the filibuster before
agreeing to any other organizing terms for the Senate. Schumer's refusal to do
so put the chamber at a standstill.
The details of the rest of the organizing resolution were not yet set, but
they were expected to proceed with any immediate changes to the filibuster, at
this stage, appearing to be off the table.