McConnell Wants a Deal on Filibusters

Issue keeps negotiations over Senate control stalled
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2021 4:13 PM CST
Democrats Don't Buy McConnell's Filibuster Plan
Sen. Chuck Schumer applauds after no Republican senator joined a House objection to confirming the Electoral College votes from Nevada on Jan. 7. Sen. Mitch McConnell watches.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republicans and Democrats are negotiating how to split control of the Senate for the next two years, and there's one custom that Mitch McConnell wants to protect: the filibuster. His rivals aren't buying it, the Hill reports. "We're not going to give him what he wishes," said Sen. Dick Durbin. "If you did that then there would be just unbridled use of it—I mean nothing holding him back." McConnell is pushing Sen. Chuck Schumer, the new majority leader, to add a provision to Senate rules guarding the 60-vote threshold for most legislation. Democrats say they don't plan any changes on the filibuster but want to preserve the option, as a way to pressure Republicans on legislation. And they hesitate to cave to McConnell just as he loses control of the Senate. "It would be exactly the wrong way to begin," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, per Politico. "We need to have the kind of position of strength that will enable us to get stuff done."

Added Sen. Jon Tester, "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." The issue has brought the Schumer-McConnell negotiations to a standoff. The two met briefly Tuesday about how to handle the 50-50 split but got nowhere, which leaves the Senate in a tangle. Similar negotiations in 2001, when the Senate was last split, didn't involve filibuster rules. Democrats rule the Senate, but some committees remain in Republican control because new senators haven't been placed on them. That's stalling some presidential appointments. "It’s exactly the opposite of the conversation that we should be having today,” said Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich. "To sort of jade the day of the inauguration and three new senators being sworn in with sort of political hostage-taking is, I think, an indication of how Machiavellian politics around here have become." (Read more Mitch McConnell stories.)

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