Speaking to the Ruthless podcast in an episode released earlier this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed reforming the filibuster would lead to a “nuclear winter” in the Senate, hampering bipartisan coordination.
“I think if they destroy the essence of the Senate, the legislative filibuster, they will find a Senate that will not function,” he said. “It takes unanimous consent to turn the lights on here. And I think they would leave an angry 50 senators not interested in being cooperative on even the simplest things.”
McConnell added that filibuster reform “may not be the panacea that they anticipate it would be. It could turn the Senate into sort of a nuclear winter, nor the aftermath of the so-called nuclear option is not a sustainable place.”
McConnell has sought to protect the filibuster, insisting that eliminating it would amount to a power grab on the part of the Democrats. Democrats, meanwhile, are facing calls from their constituents to eliminate it so they can implement their agenda without necessarily requiring Republican support.
In making his threat, McConnell, the former Senate Majority Leader, could find ways to complicate President Joe Biden‘s ability to deliver on his legislative agenda. Once Biden took office, he wanted assurances that there would be no use of the so-called “nuclear option,” which would allow Senate rules to be changed with a simple majority vote.
Last week, when asked if McConnell could “grind things to a halt” in an evenly divided chamber, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was firm: “I’m not even going to give this blustery threat credence. We’re going to move forward. Period.”
McConnell’s remarks come a day after former President Donald Trump insisted ending the filibuster would be “catastrophic” for the GOP, voicing his support as Democrats continue to face calls to scrap it entirely.
“Look, he’s hanging by a thread right now with respect to the filibuster,” Trump said of McConnell during an interview on the podcast “The Truth with Lisa Boothe.” “And if they get the filler, he’s hanging on [Democratic Senator] Joe Manchin, who always goes with the Democrats. Joe talks, but he ends up going with the Democrats. Now there’s another great senator from the state of Arizona. He’s hanging by a thread and if they get rid of the filibuster, if they knock it out, it will be catastrophic for the Republican Party.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.