Democrats may have ended the Republican rule of the Senate by reaching parity in the number of senate seats they control, but they only have achieved majority status because of Vice-President Kamala Harris’ ability to cast the deciding vote in any evenly split vote tallies.
That razor-thin margin was the reason that the negotiations over the rules governing Senate procedures for this session of the chamber of Congress were so protracted.
With Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holding up until last night any agreement over the Senate’s operational rules by insisting that Democrats vow to preserve the filibuster tool that could hand the GOP minority virtual veto power over any regular legislation before the chamber, he demonstrated that he will not give up the power that he wielded unfettered for the past six years.
McConnell only backed down from his obstructive stance that was preventing the Senate from beginning its business after two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — vowed to vote against ending the venerable tradition of the filibuster, allowing the continuance of a practice that could severely slow down or even prevent the passage of President Biden’s urgent legislative agenda.
The realization that the Democratic caucus wouldn’t currently be able to muster the votes to end the filibuster may have given McConnell sufficient confidence to drop his objections to the Senate rules for the current session, but he warned Democrats against making any further moves to try to end the filibuster in an apocalyptic speech on the Senate floor today.
Threatening a “nightmare” scenario if the majority Democrats revive their efforts to end the filibuster, McConnell vowed that there would be “immediate chaos, especially in this 50-50 Senate,” in a foreboding threat that undermined the “comity and consent” in the Senate that he pretends hasn’t already completely disappeared from the chamber under his own obstructive leadership.
“Destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory,” McConnell said in his speech. “The Constitution requires the Senate to have a quorum to do any business. Right now, a quorum is 51 and the vice president does not count to establish a quorum. The majority cannot even produce a quorum on their own, and one could be demanded by any senator at almost any time,” he said in what amounted to a threat to halt all Senate proceedings if the Democrats cross him.
“Technically, it takes collegiality and consent for the majority to keep acting as the majority at any time they do not physically … have a majority,” McConnell added. “Every Senate Democrat and the vice president could essentially just block out the next two years on their calendar. They’d have to be here all the time.”
McConnell went on to warn of a “scorched-earth, post-nuclear Senate,” wherein Republicans could force all confirmations at “even the lowest level,” to move at “a snail’s pace.”
“It would hamstring the Biden presidency over a power grab which the president has spent decades warning against,” McConnell said.
“Taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. It would be a nightmare,” he said. “I guarantee it.”
With Minority Leader McConnell refusing to abandon the hardball tactics that he employed when he was still the Majority Leader — when he himself ignored precedents, comity, and consent to push through judicial nominations of often unqualified, right-wing extremist candidates.
Democrats need to use McConnell’s speech against him and realize that they have to play their politics just as hardball as the Kentucky Senator is willing to play.
What good is power if the majority of Democrats are too craven to use it?
The election results are in and the will of the majority of the electorate was at least honored this time around.
Democrats have the power to navigate around the guaranteed obstructionism with which their Republican colleagues will surely try to kill their legislative agenda.
They need to be willing to use it whenever they need to in order to accomplish their goals.
You can watch Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech on the Senate floor in the video below.
Original reporting by Tyler Olsen at Fox News.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.