Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to let the power-sharing deal with Democrats in the Senate move forward after two Democratic members indicated they would oppose any effort to eliminate the filibuster.
McConnell received assurances from Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) that they would never vote to ax the filibuster, which was key to making a deal with Democrats on how to run the Senate.
“We’re glad Senator McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand. We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people,” said Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer.
McConnell hardly “threw in the towel” as he sought various assurances from Schumer about the filibuster. The likelihood of Democrats being able to eliminate the maneuver is now very small.
That means that Democrats will almost certainly be stymied in passing bills like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell added.
The GOP leader’s remarks effectively ends the days-long impasse over how to organize an evenly split 50-50 Senate, where Democrats hold the majority because Vice President Harris can break a tie.
Manchin emphatically rejected the idea of eliminating the filibuster as did Sinema.
“I do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition. It’s not who I am,” Manchin told reporters.
Sinema’s office also reiterated on Monday that she is still not supportive of nixing the filibuster after The Washington Post incorrectly suggested that she might be open to getting rid of the 60-vote hurdle.
Sinema is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster,” a spokesperson told the Post.
There may be one or two other Democrats who would vote against getting rid of the filibuster so McConnell feels comfortable going forward.
The rest of the power-sharing agreement mirrors a deal struck in 2001 when the Senate was also split 50-50.
McConnell’s announcement is significant because the stalemate has prevented Senate committees from officially organizing, meaning Republicans still control key committees since the chamber is operating under the rules of the last Congress when the GOP was in charge.
Schumer has demanded that the Senate agree to the 2001 rules during the last 50-50 Senate when the chamber’s committees had equal representation of both parties, and tie votes on legislation and nominations would go to the floor.
McConnell signaled Monday night he would agree to that as well.
The fact that the GOP will have equal representation on committees is nice but it’s not as important as bringing tie votes on bills and nominations to the floor to be voted on. In cases where that happens, Democrats are likely to prevail because of their majority. Not a lot of radical nominees or legislation is likely to be stopped in committee.
McConnell has proven himself to be a clever parliamentarian and has run rings around Schumer in the past when it comes to Senate rules and procedure. He’s going to need all his skill to hold the fort until 2022.