Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Democrats for “flirting” with the idea of doing away with the legislative filibuster.
In an op-ed published on Thursday with the New York Times, McConnell blasted the Senate Democrats for “proposing further radical changes” to how the Senate operates by backing the idea of ending the filibuster.
A filibuster is when a Senator refuses to yield control of the floor in order to prevent a piece of legislation they oppose from receiving a vote.
McConnell recounted how former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led the Senate Democrats in using the “nuclear option” to change the rules of the Senate so that presidential appointments — outside of Supreme Court nominations — could be passed through with a simple majority in the Senate.
The Kentucky Republican pointed out that his party took the “Reid precedent to its logical conclusion” by using the nuclear option to allow for a simple majority vote on Supreme Court nominees, which was used to confirm Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
He continued on to write that the Senate’s “treasured tradition” is “deliberation” and that the legislative filibuster “is central to the order the Constitution sets forth” even though it “does not appear” in the text of the document.
McConnell quoted former President James Madison’s famous Federalist 62 paper, where he said that the Senate was not meant to “rubber stamp” legislation from the House but to serve as an “‘additional impediment’ and ‘complicated check’ on ‘improper acts of legislation.’”
“The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition,” wrote McConnell. “If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling.”
“Yes, the Senate’s design makes it difficult for one party to enact sweeping legislation on its own. Yes, the filibuster makes policy less likely to seesaw wildly with every election. These are features, not bugs.”
McConnell then proclaimed that the U.S. needs “the Senate to be the Senate” and not “a second House of Representatives” with fewer people and “longer terms.” He promised that the Senate Republicans “have not and will not vandalize this core tradition” of the filibuster “for short-term gain.”
“We recognize what everyone should recognize — there are no permanent victories in politics. No Republican has any trouble imagining the laundry list of socialist policies that 51 Senate Democrats would happily inflict on Middle America in a filibuster-free Senate.”
McConnell ended the piece by warning that the U.S. government will lose a “key safeguard” should “future Democrats shortsightedly decide” to put the Senate under “majority rule.”
“And — stop me if you’ve heard this one — they’d regret it a lot sooner than they think,” he wrote.
Several of the Democratic presidential primary candidates have called for an end to the legislative filibuster.