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McConnell taking Senate hostage with demand he be able to kill every bill

Two days after Democrats won control of the Senate, McConnell is blocking the transfer of power.

By Emily Singer - January 22, 2021
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Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is paralyzing the Senate just two days into President Joe Biden’s term, refusing to hand over the reins of the upper chamber of Congress over a demand that he be allowed to kill every single bill Democrats put forward.

The Senate is currently in a state of paralysis because McConnell (R-KY) is blocking a power-sharing agreement, which lays out how the Senate will be structured. Currently, both Democrats and Republicans hold 50 seats each, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote that gives Democrats control of the Senate for the first time in six years.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is proposing that the Senate operate under the same power-sharing agreement that was in place 20 years ago, the last time the chamber had a 50-50 split.

But McConnell is demanding a new addition to this year’s power-sharing agreement: a demand that Democrats to agree to preserve the filibuster, a rule that requires all bills to receive 60 votes to advance.

By requiring legislation garner 60 votes to move forward, the filibuster would ensure Republicans could block every bill President Joe Biden and Democrats wish to pass — something McConnell himself said he was gearing up to do before Democrats won the Senate majority.

McConnell has confirmed he is still planning to block Democratic priorities, saying on the Senate floor on Tuesday that Democrats don’t have a “mandate” to govern, even though they won control of the House, Senate, and the White House.

“McConnell on Senate floor both makes clear Republicans are prepared to block a lot of Biden’s agenda while simultaneously insisting [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer commit to preserving the filibuster rule, which enables them to do just that,” Bloomberg News’ Steve Dennis reported.

By not agreeing to a power-sharing agreement, the Senate has been unable to change the ratios of power on committees. That means Republicans are still in control of committees, even though they are now in the minority, and it’s slowing down confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees in the midst of numerous crises Donald Trump left in his wake, Punchbowl News reported.

“McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It’s an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI ) tweeted.

McConnell claims to be a major supporter of the filibuster. However, he killed the filibuster for judicial nominees back in 2017 to install Trump’s Supreme Court picks, which Democrats say weakens McConnell’s argument for preserving the rule.

“So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate’s organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted. “Huh.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday reiterated that McConnell’s demand that Democrats agree not to change Senate rules until he relinquishes control “is unacceptable and it won’t be accepted.”

“And the Republican leader knew that when he first proposed it,” Schumer added, pointing out that McConnell changed the rules multiple times during Trump’s tenure, including to speed up confirmation of Trump’s judicial nominees.

McConnell’s demand that Democrats keep in place a rule that lets him block every bill and stymie any progress under the Biden administration comes even though Democrats have no current plans to end the filibuster.

But by blocking the basic operations of the Senate, McConnell could ensure the filibuster is nuked now, the exact opposite of what he’s seeking.

“The harder McConnell pushes, in fact, the more it helps Schumer by making McConnell look unreasonable,” Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman tweeted. “This becomes more true the longer it goes on, so McConnell has to judge this carefully.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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