Filibuster Stays, Paving Way for Power-Sharing Agreement

January 26, 2021 by Dan McCue
Filibuster Stays, Paving Way for Power-Sharing Agreement
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats maintain the Senate filibuster — ending an early stalemate in the Senate that prevented party leaders from negotiating a power-sharing agreement.

McConnell announced Monday night that he was ready to proceed with power-sharing talks after two moderate Democrats signaled they would not vote to end the legislative filibuster, assuring him that it would stay in place.

The position of the two Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona — also ensured that Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer lacked the votes to end the filibuster, a key demand from his party’s hardcore left.

McConnell had demanded that the filibuster rule remain in exchange for his cooperation on reallocating power in the Senate, which is evenly divided for the first time in two decades.

The Democrats control the chamber since Vice President Harris would break any tie.

But there are still a lot of particulars to work out and there isn’t a lot of precedent to lean on; the Senate has only been evenly divided three times before, in 1881, 1953 and 2001.

For now, Democrats and Republicans will operate on a power-sharing deal that follows the model used in 2001.

Under the 2001 agreement, both parties had an equal number of committee seats, equal budgets for committee Republicans and Democrats, and the ability of both leaders to advance legislation out of committees that are deadlocked. But Democrats will hold the chairmanships and Schumer will set the agenda for the floor.

Both sides sought to spin McConnell’s change of position Monday night.

“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001,” the Republican leader said.

“With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.

“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,” McConnell  said.

In a written statement, Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer, said “We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand.

“We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people,” he added.

McConnell and Schumer are expected to begin finalizing an organizing resolution later today.

Without an agreement, the Senate would have been essentially paralyzed with Senate Democrats unable to take full control of the chamber, despite being in the majority.

Democrats would have maintained control of the floor and the legislative agenda, but leadership of key committees would have been retained by Republicans.

Committee assignments for newly sworn-in members could not have moved forward and key legislative priorities for the new Biden administration, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, would have been stymied.

So far in the 117th Congress, Republicans and Democrats avoided partisan impasses on cabinet nominees and on scheduling the impeachment trial.

But a fight could be looming over a proposal by some Democrats that leadership use a procedure called budget reconciliation to bypass Republicans to advance President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Schumer wants to send it to the White House for Biden’s signature by mid-March, with a follow-on package later in the year.

Here again, Manchin and Sinema are shaping up to be key players. It’s said they are trying to pull  together a smaller, bipartisan package that could pass both chambers without the conflict over reconciliation.

But the time to do that is short, as a deal on a smaller bill would no doubt have to be done before the Feb. 8 start of former President Trump’s impeachment trial.

A+
a-
  • filibuster
  • Mitch McConnell
  • U.S. Senate
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    U.S. Senate

    June 14, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Senate GOP Blocks Nationwide Access to IVF Treatment

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked legislation that would have established a national right to in vitro fertilization, as... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked legislation that would have established a national right to in vitro fertilization, as the chamber’s Democrats continued an effort to put their GOP colleagues on the defensive ahead of the November elections. The 48-47 vote on the Right to... Read More

    Senate Confirms Energy Regulators, Extending Biden's Grip on Panel That Backs Renewable Energy

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's grip on a key federal energy commission will last beyond his first term, giving a boost... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's grip on a key federal energy commission will last beyond his first term, giving a boost to the Democrat's push for renewable energy regardless of the election results in November. The Senate ensured that political reality as lawmakers approved three new members of the... Read More

    June 6, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Senate GOP Blocks Bill Protecting Contraception Access

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation that would have protected women’s access to contraception, dismissing the bill as... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation that would have protected women’s access to contraception, dismissing the bill as nothing more than a political stunt by Democrats in an election year. The bill, the Right to Contraception Act, needed 60 votes to advance, but fell... Read More

    May 31, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Manchin Leaves Democratic Party, Fueling Speculation on Future

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left the Democratic Party on Friday, officially registering as an independent. In a written... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left the Democratic Party on Friday, officially registering as an independent. In a written statement posted to his Senate website, Manchin accuses both the Democratic and Republican parties of engaging in “partisan extremism” that has jeopardized democracy. “Today, our national... Read More

    May 22, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Senators Say State Abortion Ban Causing Exodus of Women’s Health Care Providers

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report... Read More

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report that suggests those laws are forcing women’s health care providers to turn away patients, shut down practices and abandon those states altogether for fear of prosecution... Read More

    May 15, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Sanders Says Weight Loss Drugs Could Bankrupt US Health Care System

    WASHINGTON — The sky-high prices of a pair of new weight loss drugs could push annual spending on prescription drugs... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The sky-high prices of a pair of new weight loss drugs could push annual spending on prescription drugs in the United States to over $1 trillion and effectively bankrupt the American health care system in the process, according to a new report released by... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top