Is there a better example of someone so ruthlessly committed to holding on to power in his increasingly decrepit hands than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? Despite being in the minority party, McConnell is now, as the New York Times put it, “refusing to cooperate in organizing the Senate unless Democrats promise not to gut” the filibuster, the rule that essentially requires most legislation to pass with a 60-vote majority in the Senate. More, via the New York Times:
Before the Senate can get down to business under new Democratic management, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and new minority leader, has forced a confrontation over the rule — which effectively imposes a 60-vote threshold to take any action — by refusing to cooperate in organizing the Senate unless Democrats promise not to gut it.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the new majority leader, has rebuffed the demand, which has infuriated Democrats who regard it as evidence that Mr. McConnell intends to obstruct Mr. Biden’s proposals on pandemic relief, immigration, climate change, health care and more.
“Mitch McConnell will not dictate to the Senate what we should do and how we should proceed,” Mr. Schumer said Sunday. “McConnell is no longer the majority leader.”
McConnell is essentially throwing a little temper tantrum. As a former first grade teacher, trust me that when a kid throws a tantrum, you absolutely do not give them what they want. You give them a little timeout, a little breather to reflect on their bad behavior! But he recognizes the reality that Democrats won’t be able to get anything done if the filibuster remains in place, given Republicans’ unwillingness to allow Democrats to govern. What also doesn’t help? Democrats in the Senate aren’t united on the necessity of getting rid of the filibuster. From the Washington Post:
The path ahead is likely to be decided by a small group of moderate Democrats, elected from red and purple states, who have signaled support for keeping the filibuster while hinting that their patience for partisan obstruction might not be infinite.
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has been the most outspoken Democratic opponent of changing Senate rules and has sought to assemble a bipartisan cadre of centrist senators willing to hammer out deals across the aisle. But other Democrats are similarly resistant. A spokeswoman for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) said the senator is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.”
Are you depressed yet? I am depressed! Most people don’t give a fuck about Senate procedure, but what most people will care about is whether Democrats accomplish anything while they’re ostensibly in the majority. The Democrats campaigned on getting people much-needed covid-19 relief, on combating climate change, on raising the minimum wage. If Senate Democrats let Mitch McConnell get his way, none of this will happen. In 2022, voters won’t care about the filibuster, but they will remember that the Democratic Party refused to get anything done when they could have and should have, and they’d be right.