Faced with the loss of power for the first time in over a decade, a reeling Mitch McConnell wasted no time in throwing down the gauntlet to the incoming Democrats.
But if he thinks he’s going to be able to bully them into submission, he’s got another thing coming.
On Thursday — President Biden’s second day in office — McConnell threatened to filibuster the Organizing Resolution that would hand Democrats control of Senate Committees unless they promised to not nuke the filibuster, which would then allow McConnell to obstruct President Biden and the Democrats entire agenda for the next two years.
He had his reply a day later — hell no.
“Leader McConnell’s proposal is unacceptable, and it won’t be accepted!” declared Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a speech from the Senate floor. Instead, Schumer will offer the same power-sharing deal that was accepted during the last 50-50 Senate in 2001. He also pointed out that McConnell had no problem nuking the filibuster for judge nominations in 2017.
Schumer says he will turn down McConnnell's request for Democrats to protect the filibuster as part of the 50-50 Senate: "Leader McConnell's proposal is unacceptable, and it won't be accepted" https://t.co/skIxovGu4p pic.twitter.com/MoAzESWocB
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2021
Yesterday, 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 made it clear they 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.”
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.