McConnell, Schumer inch closer to power-sharing deal after Dems back filibuster

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Talks between the top Senate Democrats and Republicans on a power-sharing agreement will move forward after a major sticking point in negotiations was resolved, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced.

In a statement released Monday evening, McConnell (R-Ky.) explained that his concern about protecting the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote, was being addressed, and not by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster,” the top Senate Republican said. “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.”

The two lawmakers referenced by McConnell were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), both of whom pledged to vote against any effort by their party to abolish the Senate rule.

“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell’s statement concluded.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes is not enough under current Senate rules to break through the filibuster.

In an effort to protect the Senate procedure, McConnell had sought a guarantee from Schumer that Democrats would not move to abolish it, something Schumer and his No. 2, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) did not dismiss.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Schumer was firm that Democrats would not allow Republicans to govern their leadership.

“We are not letting McConnell dictate how the Senate operates,” the New York Democrat said.

In a statement responding to McConnell’s announcement, Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said, “We’re glad Senator 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.”

When asked about the possibility for the filibuster to be changed or eliminated during a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Durbin said he believed his party should consider it.

“The American people want us to take action, action on this pandemic, action on this economy and on a host of other issues, and if this filibuster has become so common in the Senate that we can’t act, that we just sit there helpless, shame on us. Of course we should consider a change in the rule under those circumstances,” Durbin told the network over the weekend.

Talks between Schumer and McConnell stalled over the filibuster issue over the weekend. With this development, it appears the two could come to an agreement in the very near future.

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