It is a tiresome and infuriating refrain at this point, but Mitch McConnell somehow still manages to find a way to stun the nation with his fanatical determination to oppose and obstruct Democrats at every possible turn.
The surprise victories in the Georgia Senate run-off elections has put Congress’s upper chamber in a very peculiar situation. Technically holding a majority due to the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been forced to try to make a power-sharing agreement with Mitch McConnell in order to hold a quorum at all.
That's because the power-sharing agreement will spell out the number of seats that each caucus will have on Senate committees. Absent an agreement, the Senate will operate under the rules of the last Congress when the GOP controlled Senate majority and held committee chairs
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 21, 2021
But Senator McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution that lets Democrats assume their rightfully won committee chairs and keep Republicans in charge of committees unless Democrats…wait for it…promise not to nuke the filibuster, which would then allow McConnell to obstruct the entire Democratic agenda for the next two years with said filibuster.
In a staggering display of cynical hypocrisy, McConnell had the nerve to complain that “minority rights are the key to the Senate” after not letting Democrats get anything done for the past eight years and attempted to extort a promise from the Democrats to not change the rules, which would be breaking the rules, according to the rules that McConnell himself just made up, since he changed the rules of the Senate whenever it suited him when he was in power.
Minority rights on legislation are key to the Senate. President Biden spent decades defending them. More than two dozen Senate Democrats backed them just four years ago.
This isn't complicated. Simply reaffirming that Democrats won't break the rules should not be a heavy lift.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) January 21, 2021
Democrats responded with fury and incredulity to the Minority Leader’s statement and have no intention of playing along with him.
“Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader. We can get shit done around here and we ought to be focused on getting stuff done,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to POLITICO. “If we don’t, the inmates are going to be running this ship.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal added that “It would be exactly the wrong way to begin. We need to have the kind of position of strength that will enable us to get stuff done.”
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.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021
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.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021
While nuking the filibuster may prove to be counterproductive down the line, it is imperative that we rid ourselves of this archaic device that was literally created to protect the power of slave states against abolitionists.
McConnell may have overplayed his hand here. While President Biden has been vocal about his desires to reach a bipartisan agreement, on day 2 McConnell made it clear that he will be getting nothing from Republicans, leaving Biden with no choice but to go nuclear.
The Democrats won the Senate fair and square, and we should be allowed to pass policy and rewrite the rules as we please, just as McConnell and his cronies did with wild abandon during the Trump years — and if we want to keep control of the Senate, we must deliver aid and progress to the American people and remind them that government can do more than sit and sneer and worry about the deficit when millions of people are suffering.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.