The biggest question in Washington for the next two years isn’t a single policy, or whether President Biden will attend a press conference. It’s about whether Democrats are using their narrow Senate majority to kill the legislative filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to get a radical agenda into law with just 50 votes plus vice president
Two Democrats – Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia – promised earlier this year they would not vote for it. But the ongoing and media pressure builds on the couple to forego their commitments as the laws passed by the House pile up at the door of the Senate. The leaders of the Democratic Senate swear they will find a way to dodge the filibuster one way or another.
Republicans can spot these signs, and on Tuesday minority leader Mitch McConnell made it clear what would happen if they killed the filibuster. It won’t be nice.
“Some Democratic senators seem to imagine that this would be a decent compromise if only they could break the rules for a wafer-thin majority. Sure, it could harm the institution, but then nothing would stand between them and their entire agenda, a new era of quick policy making, ”said the GOP leader.
Don’t rely on it, Mr. McConnell went on, “Let me make this very clear to all 99 of my colleagues. No one serving in this chamber can even imagine what a completely scorched Senate would look like. Neither of us served for a minute in the Senate completely exempt from compassion and approval. “
He went on to explain what this could mean in practice if Republicans were to withdraw the unanimous approval required for the Senate to function: “I want our colleagues to imagine a world in which every single task, every some of them require a physical quorum – which incidentally, the Vice President does not count towards establishing a quorum. ”
That’s true. An unanimous quorum consists of 51 Senators and there are only 50 Democrats. If Republicans kept their nerve on the opposition, Democrats would not be able to approve candidates or vote on the legislation. Nancy Pelosi-Joe Biden’s agenda couldn’t move any more than if there were a filibuster.
Democrats might think this is a bluff or that the public would revolt if Republicans brought Senate business to a standstill. But are you ready to take this bet?
Democrats shouldn’t underestimate how united the Republicans would be in the Senate and how much GOP support they would get if Democrats break the filibuster in a 50:50 Senate to federalize electoral laws for 50 states, and 27 states one Enforce Compulsory Union Formation Add two new states to the right to work laws to fill the Senate or pass the Green New Deal.
Mr McConnell pointed out the obvious fact that majorities are not permanent and that Republicans would eventually be able to run the Senate without filibusters. Imagine what could happen? Mr McConnell gave a few examples – Defunding Planned Parenthood – but for political flair you think GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Rand Paul are free.
These columns have been foiled by many democratic filibusters over the years, but there is a rule of protecting minority rights and requiring large majorities for major reforms. If Democrats blow it up on the narrowest majority of the vote, they will have the unintended consequences.
Potomac Watch: Democrats this week pushed aside mail-in and absentee ballot concerns to vote for HR1, and gave up their own states’ right to set electoral rules. Image: Lenin Nolly / Zuma Wire
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8