Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed that Republicans would retaliate if Democrats change the legislative filibuster, personally guaranteeing that the business of governing would become very difficult for his colleagues across the aisle, according to a report from The Hill.
Speaking from the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell argued that changing the filibuster requirement — that most legislation needs 60 votes to advance — would effectively “silence the voices of millions and millions of Americans” represented by Republican senators.
“We will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory,” McConnell said. “What would a post-nuclear Senate look like? I assure you it would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it.”
Throughout the day, the Senate operates on unanimous consent, or deals that have the support of the entire chamber. If Democrats change the filibuster, McConnell warned that Republicans would be willing to block those customary agreements, making it more difficult for Democrats to accomplish day-to-day tasks.
“Do my colleagues understand how many times per day the Senate needs and gets unanimous consent for basic housekeeping? Do they understand how many things would require roll-call votes, how often the minority could demand lengthy debate?” McConnell said.
McConnell’s warning comes as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said that he will bring up election-related legislation this week and a proposal to change the rules if Republicans block it from getting the 60 votes needed to change the filibuster.
Democrats don’t know yet what that proposal would look like. They are floating several ideas, but to change the rules without GOP support, they would need unity from all 50 of their members, which, at present, they don’t have.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have both been supportive of the 60-vote filibuster and don’t appear likely to go along with Schumer’s plan.
“We need some good rules changes,” Manchin said. “We can do that together. Getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better.”