In 2013, when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “broke” the rules — aka the nuclear option — to allow lower court and Cabinet nominees to be confirmed with a simple majority, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats.
“You will rue the day,” McConnell said. “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”
Words that would come back to haunt Democrats more than once as McConnell set the Supreme Court for a generation. And now McConnell is issuing another scathing warning in the face of talk about eliminating the filibuster to clear radical legislation like the Democrats’ voter rights bill.
“Some Democrats believe this would be a tidy tradeoff if they could just break the rules on a razor-thin majority,” McConnell said from the floor of the Senate. “That’s not what would happen. So let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues. Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like.”
“None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity, and this is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell on the filibuster: "Everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama would be child's play compared to the disaster the Democrats would create for their own priorities if, if, they break the Senate." pic.twitter.com/xFIXlfyVYC
— The Hill (@thehill) March 16, 2021
The GOP leader was clear on what the Republican Party’s “scorched-earth” policy would look like if Democrats proceed.
“I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every single task, every one of them, requires a physical quorum,” McConnell said, reminding the body that Vice President Kamala Harris does not count when determining a quorum.
“Everything Senate Democrats did to Presidents Bush and Trump, everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama would be child’s play compared to the disaster the Democrats would create for their own priorities if — if — they break the Senate,” he said. “Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane tasks of the Biden presidency would actually be harder — not easier — for Democrats in a post-nuclear Senate.”
McConnell then offered Democrats more of a taste of what a GOP-controlled Senate might look like moving forward — a possibility that could happen as soon as 2022.
“As soon as Republicans wound up back in the saddle, we wouldn’t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country, we would strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero input from the other side,” he said. “How about this? Nationwide right to work for working Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities on day one. A whole new era of domestic energy production. Sweeping new protections for conscience and the right to life of the unborn. Concealed carry reciprocity in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Massive hardening of security on the southern border.”
One thing the opposition party has already learned is that McConnell stands by his words.
His warning came after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said it was time to stop allowing the minority party to block legislation by requiring a three-fifths majority to advance most bills.
“Today’s filibusters have turned the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies,” He said Monday. “If a senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he or she should have to pay some minimal price of being present. No more phoning it in. If your principles are that important, stand up for them, speak your mind, hold the floor, and show your resolve.”
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