When President Obama took office in 2009, he was facing numerous crises. The economy was losing 800,000 jobs per month, the banking and auto industries were on the verge of collapse and the U.S. was involved in two failed wars. At the time, Obama inherited the most serious problems of any new president since Lincoln in 1861 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.
Despite this national crisis, the Republicans in Congress settled on a strategy of all out obstruction before Obama was even inaugurated. Then Vice President Joe Biden reported that during the transition, several GOP Senators privately told him that GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had given them orders that there was to be no cooperation with the incoming administration — because McConnell had decided that “we can’t let you succeed.” Moreover, a group of House GOP leaders met at an upscale D.C. restaurant on the night of the inauguration and determined there was to be no Republican support for any legislation introduced by President Obama.
Now here we are twelve years later and President Joe Biden has inherited an even bigger mess from Trump and the Republicans. President Biden is facing the most deadly pandemic since 1918, the worst job market of any modern president, a climate crisis and a deeply divided country.
And once again, the response of Mitch McConnell and the D.C. Republicans is the same. The Republicans in Congress have settled on a policy of scorched earth and sabotage. They are willing to hurt the American people and a new president in a cynical attempt to regain power. It’s rule or ruin for McConnell and the D.C. Republicans.
The Senate is currently divided on a 50–50 basis. In order to get the Senate up and running, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell must agree to a so-called power sharing agreement. There was a power sharing agreement in 2001 when the Senate was equally divided. Chuck Schumer and the Democrats have proposed that the Senate simply replicate that agreement. Unfortunately, McConnell has rejected a repeat of that deal — even though he supported it twenty years ago.
The stumbling block to any agreement is that McConnell has demanded that it include a condition requiring the preservation of the legislative filibuster. It is doubtful that all 50 Democratic senators would support abolition of the filibuster but they have refused to give in to McConnell’s unreasonable demand.
The Senate Democrats want to keep the option of eliminating the filibuster on the table to pressure the Republicans to compromise. In any event, Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats do have the power to simply write the Senate’s procedural rules on a party line vote whenever they want. Vice President Harris would have to be the fifty first vote. Apparently, they are reluctant to do so.
Two Senate Democrats tweeted about McConnell’s intransigence.
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. Senator Brian Schatz.
So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate’s organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again. Senator Chris Murphy.
Two former Obama advisers also weighed in on Twitter.
McConnell’s argument is that unless Democrats promise to let him filibuster their agenda, he’ll use the filibuster to prevent them from taking power at all. I can’t imagine a better argument for getting rid of the filibuster. Jon Favreau.
The fact that Mitch McConnell can use the filibuster to prevent the majority from taking control of the Senate is a pretty good argument against the filibuster. Dan Pfeiffer.
Former Bill Clinton adviser Paul Begala laid bare the practical impact of McConnell’s hypocrisy in this tweet: McConnell ended the filibuster so he could put three right-wing Federalist Society judges on the Supreme Court for life. But he won’t let Dems end it to provide jobs and health care to the middle class and the poor.
McConnell and his accomplices in the GOP caucus want to maintain the filibuster because the right wing agenda largely consists of deficit funded tax cuts for the wealthy and pro-business judges. The Republicans can pass regressive tax cuts with 51 votes in the Senate using the budget reconciliation rules. Moreover, McConnell, Fischer and Sasse have already eliminated the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees.
In contrast, Democrats can’t use the budget reconciliation rules to pass universal health care, voting rights reform, gun safety reform and climate change legislation. Under the current rules, it would take 60 votes to pass most of the Democratic agenda. In other words, it’s virtually impossible for the Democrats to enact their platform.
We Democrats need to constantly message to the voters the profound differences between the two parties. We Democrats are the party of the people. The Democratic Party created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans are the party of the rich, sabotage, mass unemployment, mass illness, mass death and violence.
Going forward into the 2022 elections, we must repeat that message again and again and again. The 2022 elections could be the last free elections in American history. If the GOP wins the Senate and the House in 2022, they will steal the 2024 presidential election. And if the GOP regains the levers of power in D.C., they will wreck the country again.
The Republicans will always be the party of Donald Trump. We must never let the voters forget that. History matters. Now let’s get it done!