Mitch McConnell: I’d prefer to leave the filibuster intact for Democrats next year if we take back the Senate

posted at 4:41 pm on May 22, 2014 by Allahpundit

Before you shake your fist, consider the strategy at work here.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that if he were to emerge as majority leader following this fall’s elections, he’d prefer to keep in place the minority party’s ability to filibuster legislation…

While he said he thought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had done a “lot of damage” by using parliamentary procedure to enable some judicial and executive nominees to move through the chamber with 50 votes, he suggested that he had no plans to try to undo that change. He even left the door open to further changing the rules so they would apply to more nominees…

But in stopping short of endorsing filibuster reform for actual legislation, McConnell laid down a marker for how he would run the chamber that could end up upsetting his own members. Should, for example, Republicans emerge from November with a slim Senate majority, there will be a number of legislative items — including, potentially, the repeal of Obamacare — on which he will need 60 votes to end debate.

So he’s planning to maintain Harry Reid’s status quo, in which 51 votes would be needed for cloture on presidential appointments (except to the Supreme Court) but 60 would remain the threshold for actual legislation. Why would he do that? Why not get rid of the filibuster for Senate bills too so that the GOP majority can pass whatever it wants? Two obvious reasons. One: Obama’s going to veto whatever comes out of a Republican Congress so the GOP gains nothing by nuking the rest of the filibuster. Two, more importantly: It’s very likely that Democrats will be regain their Senate majority in 2017 and also quite possible that there’ll be a new Democratic president in office. That would leave just two obstacles to Democrats passing any law they want — the House, which will probably but not definitely still be in GOP hands in three years, and the filibuster in the Senate. If McConnell nukes that filibuster for legislation next year, all Reid has to do when he’s back in charge is say that he’s going to follow Republican precedent. The GOP minority will be completely locked out in the upper chamber with no grounds to complain. McConnell’s playing a long game in refusing to hand that opening to Reid. Better to let Democrats filibuster GOP bills that’ll end up dying on Obama’s desk anyway than to create a Republican buy-in to the Dems’ anti-filibuster agenda.

In fact, keeping the filibuster around may be useful to conservatives too. If you think Mitch the Knife’s going to push an exclusively right-wing agenda as majority leader, think again:

As majority leader, McConnell would command significant authority in setting the agenda. But in a speech in January he indicated that he would aim to focus on areas of consensus, not solely conservative priorities — like repeated votes to repeal Obamacare…

A fully Republican Congress would have an obligation to the party’s would-be 2016 presidential hopeful to avoid extreme positions that would damage GOP presidential chances, analysts say. At the same time, Republicans would bear full responsibility for an institution that is highly unpopular with the public and has been notoriously unproductive in recent years.

“In order to elect a president in 2016, we’re going to have to show in 2015 and ’16 that the American people can trust Republicans with the government,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “That means that we’ll have to come up with changes that go in a conservative direction, but changes that command support of independent voters as well as our conservative base.”

Tax reform is one example of an initiative that might end up a bit more moderate than conservatives would prefer. Amnesty, of course, is another. It’s unlikely that McConnell would try to pass something that no less than 41 members of his own caucus oppose, but given how much righties seem to distrust him, you’d like the option to filibuster a terrible bill that ends up on the floor with McConnell’s blessing, no? Keeping the current rule intact gives you that option.

One thing I don’t get, though: Why not bring the filibuster back for presidential appointments too? If, in all likelihood, the GOP’s going to be back in the minority in a few years, it’s worth moving to undo Reid’s precedent on appointments as quickly as possible. He might just reverse the rule again, of course, by re-nuking it in 2017 if the GOP brings it back next year, but at least force him to make that move. By acquiescing in what he did, you’ve agreed to move the Overton window on nominations. Having the filibuster intact next year for nominees could benefit conservatives too. It’s quite possible that Obama will nominate someone dubious whom most, but not quite all, Republicans oppose. If the GOP ends up with a slim 51/49 majority, it would take just two Republicans to flip for that nominee to be confirmed — unless the old filibuster rules are reinstated, in which case it would take 11. Why wouldn’t McConnell want to add that extra insurance?

Exit question: If the doomsday scenario comes to pass and Democrats end up controlling the White House and both houses of Congress in 2017, what’s the likelihood that Reid will go ahead and nuke the filibuster on legislation regardless of what McConnell does next year? One hundred percent, right?


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Comment pages: 1 2

So Allah, should we not vote in 2016? After all you said “It’s very likely that Democrats will be regain their Senate majority in 2017″. How do you know this stuff? are you half Demorat? I hope you never get to be a political consultant to a top Republican candidate.

inspectorudy on May 22, 2014 at 11:55 PM

This is why Allahpundit is a poster boy for the Republican party. Negative, pessimistic, beta male, no balls and I am so much better than you because I live in New York, west coast, DC, blah, blah, blah… You bunch of losers I don’t care if what I write is depressing, I’m making money off of you!

Vince on May 22, 2014 at 6:34 PM

Amen Brother, Amen.

reddevil on May 23, 2014 at 2:26 AM

This is why the turtle needs to go, even though it means supporting a Democrat

Brock Robamney on May 23, 2014 at 5:13 AM

Wow, you elect the same, and now you’re getting more of the same.

Whodda thunk it?

#Science!

RobertInAustin on May 23, 2014 at 8:23 AM

I wish I had those few minutes back after reading this junk.

Bleed_thelizard on May 23, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Costa Rica ’17 is looking like a reality.

Kissmygrits on May 23, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Boehner and McConnell think it is impossible to achieve anything when you have control of only one half of one third of a Branch of Government. They are about to see what 1/3 of the constituents in a Political Party that gets 50% +/- 2% of the total votes in a two party Republic can achieve when they stay at home. MM is like a turtle without a shell.
I have noticed that the true potential leaders of the GOP are too busy making money to lead in Government, while the Dems lead and then make the money when they get into Government.

Whiterock on May 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Sounds like surrendering following a victory to me.

cajunpatriot on May 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I disagree strongly with the premise that democrats are likely to regain their Senate majority in 2017 and very strongly that there will be a democratic president in 2017.

If that’s your attitude, why don’t you just shill for the democrats and campaign for Hillary?

Saverio on May 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

If, in all likelihood, the GOP’s going to be back in the minority in a few years, it’s worth moving to undo Reid’s precedent on appointments as quickly as possible.

That shows a lot of spunk and fight in our GOP leaders. Beaten before they even begin.

Herb on May 23, 2014 at 10:25 AM

The Republican base ie the tea party needs to stay home on election day teach this and all RINOS a lesson

Thicklugdonkey on May 22, 2014 at 6:04 PM

They did that in 2012 ..how’s that working out for you?

I blame them as much as liberal loons who voted for Obama

Redford on May 22, 2014 at 6:12 PM

That’s like blaming the tree that was cut down and fell on your car instead of blaming the f*ckwit who chopped it down in such an abjectly f*ckwitted way that it couldn’t do anything *but* fall on your car.

You need to direct your angst at the f*ckwit RINO with the axe in his hand.

Midas on May 23, 2014 at 10:27 AM

It’s pretty clear that McConnell would find a way to lose the game holding all the aces, so discussing with Mr Loser the fine points of his road-to-nowhere strategy seems like time that would be better spent watching The View.

virgo on May 23, 2014 at 10:32 AM

It’s very likely that Democrats will be regain their Senate majority in 2017 and also quite possible that there’ll be a new Democratic president in office.

So I guess we should simply surrender right now? There is so much stupid and divination in that prediction, it is actually hard to fathom.

After all, Democrats have done such a peachy job with things that matter to voters- right?

But in a speech in January he indicated that he would aim to focus on areas of consensus, not solely conservative priorities

Somebody will have to define a “conservative priority” that won’t be good for our nation as a whole.

As a country, we’ve been curb stomped into submission since Democrats took over. Now Mitch wants to leave his courage at the door. Fabulous.

Marcus Traianus on May 23, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I think the Republicans will hold the House but not regain control of the Senate. Why? Because the GOP is running a bunch of old, tired RINOs in the senate. But not to worry because conservatives will be blamed and we will still get a RINO presidential nominee in 2016 who will lose. And conservatives will be blamed and the losing mentality of the GOP will continue.

fight like a girl on May 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM

But in a speech in January he indicated that he would aim to focus on areas of consensus, not solely conservative priorities

The democrats need to win McConnell’s seat if the GOP is to survive as a conservative alternative.

fight like a girl on May 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

The Republican base ie the tea party needs to stay home on election day teach this and all RINOS a lesson
Thicklugdonkey on May 22, 2014 at 6:04 PM

They did that in 2012 ..how’s that working out for you?
I blame them as much as liberal loons who voted for Obama
Redford on May 22, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Not any worse than when the blind sycophants vote for the guy with the ‘R’ next to their name. Tell me what is one positive thing that the GOP did during the 2000 – 2006 monopoly on power?

Brock Robamney on May 23, 2014 at 11:32 AM

I think the Republicans will hold the House but not regain control of the Senate. Why? Because the GOP is running a bunch of old, tired RINOs in the senate. But not to worry because conservatives will be blamed and we will still get a RINO presidential nominee in 2016 who will lose. And conservatives will be blamed and the losing mentality of the GOP will continue.
fight like a girl on May 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Don’t underestimate the power of the GOP to screw everything up

Brock Robamney on May 23, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The democrats need to win McConnell’s seat if the GOP is to survive as a conservative alternative.

It will never happen.

We need to start speaking as a party and not simply as conservatives or some other faction.

The problem is with established politicians in Washington- both parties, of which McConnell is the quintessential example. They fight harder against their own party because it threatens their existence in Washington.

People like McConnell, and Boehner for that matter, blame the boogeyman, Tea Party, Sasquatch and anyone else but them for the abject failure they represent. People want to talk about the President not taking responsibility for his actions? Someone tell me who in Washington does.

The GOP sings the same song every election and can’t figure out why they don’t win. They deflect, obfuscate, demur and blame. Their electoral strategy was a complete failure in the last general election. So what are they going to do? They are going to use the same strategy, firms and people again. People, who in any other real-life situation would have been fired. Hi Reince.

Some day, the GOP will wake up or simply cease to exist as a party. We’ve had no tangible, vocal, smart, articulate, coordinated, courageous opposition that has provided us relief in a long time anyway. So my guess is nobody will miss them anyway. They will simply fold into a wing of the Democrat Party. Because that’s exactly where they are headed.

Marcus Traianus on May 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM

The democrats need to win McConnell’s seat if the GOP is to survive as a conservative alternative.
fight like a girl on May 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

The GOP is on a fast track to become the Whigs

Brock Robamney on May 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Idiot!…..Who cares what he THINKS will happen in the future. Get it done now, change and/or create legislation while we can.
Look what the democrat’s were able to do in the last 5 years. We have a chance to undue everything, and this reelected RINO will not do what is necessary.
I no longer like McConnell.

Skullf15 on May 23, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Yet again, McConnell lets slip his ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and duplicity. He lied to you people in KY, and then we all have to suffer. He is a disgusting, career politician and a LIAR!

ultracon on May 23, 2014 at 1:31 PM

If that’s your attitude, why don’t you just shill for the democrats and campaign for Hillary?

Saverio on May 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Isn’t that what they do most the time here anyway?

reddevil on May 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Yet again, McConnell lets slip his ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and duplicity. He lied to you people in KY, and then we all have to suffer. He is a disgusting, career politician and a LIAR!
ultracon on May 23, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Well you can tell that they don’t require IQ tests to vote in Kentucky.

Brock Robamney on May 23, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Analpudnik’s “analysis” can always be counted on to be substandard, but this piece is unusually bad.

And I wish I could vote against “Rough Trade” McConnel. If I lived in KY, I’d vote for Grimes.

sartana on May 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Where is it written that Mitch is going to be majority leader? Also, there’s a reason AP (the online community organizer) sits behind a screen name and writes about these things instead of actually getting involved in making sure this does or doesn’t happen.

Mush is good isn’t it? 5 years of debt, scandal and polarization to be met with 2 years of actual reforms/rollbacks even met with a veto will always prompt voters to want 8 more years of debt, scandal and polarization right? Yep, let’s do what the liberals want so we can live to fight another day because principles were so 1981.

CommieJuice on May 23, 2014 at 7:58 PM

‘Filibuster legislation’? Legislation brought to the floor should receive an immediate up or down vote. We pay these people dearly to enact the laws that affect everyone. ALL debate in this body should be done BEFORE any legislation comes to the floor for a vote. Unless, to them, it’s all a game. Then a “vote” means nothing.

Netclimber on May 24, 2014 at 12:22 AM

In order to ensure your vote counts, be sure that the person you vote for votes as you would.

Netclimber on May 24, 2014 at 12:41 AM

Otherwise, YOUR vote means NOTHING. And the people who collect your money know that. But everyone knows that, right?

Netclimber on May 24, 2014 at 1:07 AM

RIGHT?

Netclimber on May 24, 2014 at 3:13 AM

‘Filibuster legislation’? Legislation brought to the floor should receive an immediate up or down vote. We pay these people dearly to enact the laws that affect everyone. ALL debate in this body should be done BEFORE any legislation comes to the floor for a vote. Unless, to them, it’s all a game. Then a “vote” means nothing.
Netclimber on May 24, 2014 at 12:22 AM

Like the Obamacare vote ?

Brock Robamney on May 24, 2014 at 7:44 AM

Better idea, Mitch.

If you win, you keep the place nuked, and you keep steamrolling the Democrats until Harry Reid comes into your office BEGGING you for minority rights.

You then tell him, that’s fine…on one condition. And that condition is, that no voting threshold shall be lowered without a vote sufficient to meet that same threshold. If you want to lower the bar from 2/3 to 3/5, 2/3 must agree. If you want to lower the bar from 3/5 to simple majority, 3/5 must agree. No more lowering the bar without the consent of the minority, and this rule proposal shall require a 2/3 threshold to get rid of.

At which point, one of two things will happen. Either Reid will agree, or he’ll have an apoplexy attack, which, at his age, he probably won’t survive.

Either way, some long-gone sanity should return to the United States Senate.

Archangel Nation on May 25, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Let Obama veto all day. It makes him extremely uncomfortable being held responsible for anything. In case you haven’t noticed, in 5.5 years, he’s only vetoed twice.

ceruleanblue on May 25, 2014 at 5:09 PM

So Allah, should we not vote in 2016? After all you said “It’s very likely that Democrats will be regain their Senate majority in 2017″. How do you know this stuff? are you half Demorat? I hope you never get to be a political consultant to a top Republican candidate.

inspectorudy on May 22, 2014 at 11:55 PM

Well he apparently can read a map and understands senate cycles. The 2016 incumbents will be the people elected in the 2010 wave year. That by itself means the GOP will be trying to defend a lot of territory. On top of that it’s a presidential election year, and if you’ve been keeping track those have been pretty terrible for the GOP recently. And finally because 2010 was a wave year for the right they won in a lot of places where they normally would not have, which means not only are they having to defend a lot of seats but a lot of those seats are in hostile territory.

It’s not rocket science just open your eyes.

Tlaloc on May 25, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Either way, some long-gone sanity should return to the United States Senate.

Archangel Nation on May 25, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Yes letting the minority completely stop the senate is sanity.

Look if you want to fix the filibuster it’s very simply- require talking filibusters again. That way if the right wants to reflexively oppose everything there’s a political and physical toll for doing so.

Tlaloc on May 25, 2014 at 7:42 PM

@Tlaloc

That’s the way the Senate was designed–the minority is supposed to have more rights than it does in the House. Much has been said about the importance of minority rights in the Senate.

Let’s see if you can identify who said the following, regarding filibusters and the nuclear option.

1. “If there were ever an example of an abuse of power, this is it…the filibuster is the last check we have against the abuse of power in Washington.”

2. “The American people have rejected the nuclear option because they see it for what it is — an unconstitutional abuse of power.”

3. “For more than two centuries, we’ve kept our republic because Americans have understood that our liberty is protected by our laws and by a government of limited powers. Our Constitution provides for checks and balances so that no one person in power, so that no one political party, can hold total control over the course of our nation.”

4. “I want to be clear: We are prepared for a vote on the nuclear option. Democrats will join responsible Republicans in a vote to uphold the constitutional principles of checks and balances.”

The answers:

1. Harry Reid, as Minority Leader, quoted in The Washington Post in 2005.

2. Harry Reid, as Minority Leader, on the floor of the Senate, no less, in 2005.

3. Harry Reid.

4. Harry Reid, quoted in Salon in 2005.

It would appear that Harry Reid was for minority rights before he was against them.

Archangel Nation on May 25, 2014 at 8:57 PM

As Lincoln said “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” If the Republicans win the Senate McConnell will give the control back to Dingy Harry. You just can’t fix stupidity! Remember when Lott was the majority leader, he turn control over to the Democrats too. I use to think it was something in the water or air, but I realized that it is fear, fear of leadership.

savage24 on May 26, 2014 at 9:57 PM

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