McConnell vows retaliation if Democrats change filibuster

( )- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a warning to Democrats on Tuesday: If they alter the upper chamber’s filibuster, expect Republicans to retaliate.

Democrats have been throwing around the idea of changing the filibuster rule so they can more easily pass some of their legislative priorities. This includes their massive social spending bill as well as bills meant to protect voting rights.

To this point, however, eliminating the filibuster hasn’t received any support from the White House. That all changed this week, when President Joe Biden said he would support making changes to the rule — which requires 60 senators to vote in favor of a bill for it to pass — so that liberal voting rights bills can get through the upper chamber.

In response, McConnell gave a speech from the floor of the Senate this week, saying changing the filibuster would “silence the voices of millions and millions of Americans” who are represented by Republican senators.

He explained:

“We will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory. What would a post-nuclear Senate look like? I assure you, it would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it.”

One thing that McConnell promised to do if the filibuster was eliminated was block routing agreements known as unanimous consent for deals that have buy-in from the whole chamber. If he were to do that, it would stifle progress, as Democrats would have a tough time doing this such allowing committee meetings to take place or simply setting a schedule for the Senate.

McConnell explained in his speech what he would do:

“Do my colleagues understand how many times per day the Senate needs and gets unanimous consent for basic housekeeping? Do they understand how many things would require roll-call votes, how often the minority could demand lengthy debate? Our colleagues who are itching for a procedural nuclear winter have not even begun to contemplate how it would look.

“If the Democratic leader tries to shut millions of Americans and entire states out of the business of governing, the operations of this body will change. Oh yes, that much is true. But not in a way that rewards the rule-breakers. Not in ways that advantage this president, this majority or their party.”

In other words, if Democrats decide to use the “nuclear option” to get around the filibuster for voting rights legislation, McConnell plans to make life for them extremely difficult. Democrats would have to go through arduous voting on even the simplest of tasks, which could hold up the Senate from literally accomplishing anything at all.

This warning comes on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying he would re-introduce legislation dealing with elections and voting rights this week. He said that if Republicans were to block the legislation through the filibuster, he would then introduce a proposal to change the Senate rules.

Whether he continues through on that promise following McConnell’s threat is the big question facing the Senate now.