Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster, easing a standoff with new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as the two negotiated a power-sharing agreement in the closely divided chamber.
McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after two Democratic senators said they would not agree to changing the rules to end the filibuster, which would require a 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation. Without the support of all Democratic senators, a rules change would fail.
“With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell said in a statement. He did not name the Democrats, but West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema had expressed reservations to doing away with the tool.
Schumer’s office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside his demands.
“We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. “We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.”
The standoff between the two leaders all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the new Democratic majority as the two sides could not organize the chamber’s routine operations for committee assignments and resources. The stalemate threatened President Joe Biden’s ability to deliver on his legislative agenda.
Today on AirTalk, we’re getting the latest political news. We’re also diving into the filibuster and budget reconciliation, as well as what sharing power looks like in the Senate with the vice president as the deciding vote. Questions? Leave them below or give us a call at 866-893-5722.
Christian Grose, associate professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southern California; he is the academic director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy