Senate moves forward after McConnell concedes filibuster demand

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dropped his demand that the legislative filibuster be preserved as power shifts to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) ( McConnell had initially wanted Democrats to make a written commitment to maintaining the 60 vote threshold before he transferred control of the Senate committees to Democrats.

He withdrew this demand when Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona publicly stated that they would not vote to abolish the filibuster or change the voting threshold to 50. He said, "Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden's and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation… 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.”

The Senate had been in limbo since the new session began, but they can now proceed with an organizing resolution and set up ground rules for the next two years and reorganize committee leadership. This will allow legislation to move forward, however Democrats only hold a slim 51-50 lead with Vice President Harris holding the tie breaking vote. While Democrats have control of both houses of Congress and the White House, it may be difficult for them to fulfill their agenda items if legislation can’t make it through the Senate. Will this mean that Biden will rely more on executive orders? Could potential gridlock hurt or help Republicans’ chances in the 2022 midterm elections?

Image Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

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