This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Democrats have the slimmest of slim majorities in the Senate, only ahead because Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, but that is not stopping them from thinking big.
In fact, Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer is actually going against what the leader of his party, President Joe Biden, has claimed he wanted, The Western Journal reported.
President Joe Biden said on the campaign trail that he doesn’t want to kill the filibuster. As president, that position hasn’t changed, at least publicly.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted Biden didn’t support repealing the rule requiring a 60-vote margin to move most bills through the Senate: “He has spoken to this many times. His position has not changed,” she said, according to the Washington Examiner.
In December 2019, Biden told The New York Times editorial board that “there’s a lot of things people agree on, though you don’t — there’s two things. One is that there are a number of areas where you can reach consensus that relate to things like cancer and health care and a whole range of things. I think we can reach consensus on that and get it passed without changing the filibuster rule.”
But when Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell asked for a promise to not end the filibuster in their power sharing agreement Schumer balked.
“I cannot imagine the Democratic leader would rather hold up the power-sharing agreement than simply reaffirm that his side won’t be breaking this standing rule of the Senate,” McConnell said this week.
“The time is ripe to address this issue head on before the passions of one particular issue or another arise,” the former majority leader said. “A delay in reaching an agreement could delay the final determination of committee assignments but it is important to maintain the status quo on the legislative filibuster.”
After the two leaders met Schumer told reporters that “we discussed a whole lot of issues.” And a spokesman for Schumer expressed his position.
“Leader Schumer expressed that the fairest, most reasonable and easiest path forward is to adopt the 2001 bipartisan agreement without extraneous changes from either side,” he said.
The “extraneous” change, of course, would be the protection for the filibuster that McConnell had sought.
“McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding, and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years. Discussions on all aspects of the power-sharing agreement will continue over the next several days,” McConnell’s spokesman Doug Andres said on Tuesday.
The power sharing agreement is necessary because Vice President Harris cannot spend all of her time in the Senate breaking ties.
“McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It’s an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels,” Sen. Brian Schatz said.
“They’re both pragmatists in that they have to get this done for us to move forward. I think they will. I don’t get the sense McConnell is going to hold out for weeks or anything like that,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.