It’s entertaining how the Politico Playbook has taken some time off from the epoch-defining failed nomination of Neera Tanden to credulously report on Mitch McConnell’s threats to the Democratic caucus:
Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL delivered one of his most scathing warnings yet to Democrats eager to abolish the filibuster on the Senate floor this morning. The Kentucky Republican — who resisted pressure from DONALD TRUMP for four years to nix the chamber’s supermajority threshold — promised his colleagues a world of hurt should they go through with it. Republicans, he vowed, would throw up their own procedural hurdles — so many that “everything that Democrat[s] … did to Presidents Bush and Trump, everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama, would be child’s play.”
So what does he mean exactly? McConnell knows the ins and outs of Senate rules better than anyone. In an institution that operates by unanimous consent for everything— from turning on the lights, to allowing senators to give floor speeches or speed through the customary reading of lengthy legislative text — McConnell can slow down everything with one simple demand: Require quorums for everything. And he signaled he will.
The silliness of this should be evident on its face:
why would anyone take this seriously?— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) March 16, 2021
“I will stop you from legislating if you don’t preemptively refuse to legislate yourself!” In addition to the obvious, unanimous consent requirements also exist at the pleasure of the majority, and can be changed if majorities want to.
This is similarly empty:
McConnell also sought to appeal to Democrats’ pragmatic side: If they go nuclear, Republicans willutilize the new chamber rules when they return to power — and that’s just a matter of time, folks. Abortion legislation. Defunding sanctuary cities. Concealed-carry permits nationwide. Right to work. Energy drilling. Southern border lockdowns. “The pendulum, Mr. President, would swing both ways. And it would swing hard,” McConnell promised.
As Jamelle goes on to point out, if marginal Senate Republicans wanted to do any of this stuff the legislative filibuster would be gone. We can see this because when the filibuster did threaten a high Republican priority — replacing a vacant Supreme Court seat — he eliminated it in about 15 seconds. Republicans like the legislative filibuster because they can carry out their agenda (upper-class tax cuts and neocofederate judges) anyway, but Democrats can’t. And the best news about McConnell’s rants is that he seems to think there’s a real chance Democrats will figure out that eliminating the filibuster will be a major net benefit. Indeed, gerrymander reform alone would make it worthwhile.