Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered a fresh defense of the filibuster on Thursday, writing in an op-ed that Democrats could pass a “laundry list of socialist policies” if they took control of the chamber and the long-standing tradition was dropped.
“Our country doesn’t need a second House of Representatives with fewer members and longer terms,” McConnell wrote in a piece published by the New York Times in which he touted the strong role of the minority-party rights in his chamber. “America needs the Senate to be the Senate.
McConnell’s op-ed comes as many Democratic presidential candidates and others in the party have called for abandoning the Senate requirement to secure 60 votes to overcome a filibuster to advance most legislation.
According to a Washington Post tally, five Democratic White House hopefuls have said they believe the Senate should be able to pass bills with a simple majority, while another 11 contenders have said they are open to the change.
They argue that the lower bar would make it far easier to enact plans such as Medicare-for-all that draw little or no Republican support, assuming Democrats take control of the White House and both chambers of Congress in next year’s elections.
President Trump has also called for eliminating the filibuster, a fact left unmentioned in McConnell’s op-ed. Trump derided the “ridiculous filibuster rule” in tweets early in his tenure when Republicans struggled to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Strong minority rights have always been the Senate’s distinguishing feature,” McConnell wrote in his op-ed. “If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling.”
McConnell noted that it might seem “odd” for the Senate majority leader to oppose a proposal that would increase the power of Republicans in his chamber.
But, he said, “there are no permanent victories in politics.”
“No Republican has any trouble imagining the laundry list of socialist policies that 51 Senate Democrats would happily inflict on Middle America in a filibuster-free Senate.”