Warning against Democrats taking down the filibuster, Republicans are suggesting they'll move to force votes on a string of GOP agenda items -- the Keystone XL Pipeline, abortion, the border wall -- effectively engineering a floor takeover and setting the chamber agenda.
Two independents in the Senate vote with Democrats, and Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote gives the Democrats the leverage to pass bills, but without the filibuster the 50 Republicans can force debate on their agenda items even if they will be doomed by partisan votes and the Harris tiebreaker.
"Since Sen. [Chuck] Schumer is hellbent on trying to break the Senate, Republicans will show how this reckless action would have immediate consequences," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
Other items Republicans might seek to force to debate include blocking vaccines mandates and putting a stop to fracking bans, according to the report.
"We have a lot of bills, actually, that have bipartisan support that Democrats have expressed support for previously," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told The Hill.
Again, Democrats would still hold the power to vote down the bills, but just putting the vote on record can be used for the 2022 midterms, particularly with vulnerable Democrats in purple states like Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.; Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Maggie Hassan, N.H.; and Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev.
Republicans can force "some really hard votes for Democrats," Thune told The Hill.
"What they’re talking about doing — we've said this before — is not without consequence, and they know it," Thune added. "They need to think long and hard ... about whether or not they want to go down a path that allows Republicans to move items on our agenda at 51."
Republicans note they merely need one Democrat to join them on any of the above GOP agenda items, something they claim they can achieve in a number of instances, according to the report.
Still, Schumer needs to break the filibuster to potentially pass Democrats' election laws before the midterms, a tradeoff he seems willing to make.
"If Republicans refuse to join us in a bipartisan spirit, if they continue to hijack the rules of the Senate to turn this chamber into a deep freezer, we're going to consider the appropriate steps necessary to restore the Senate so we can pass these proposals and send them to the president's desk," Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.
McConnell called out Democrats' "takeover" attempt in his Senate floor remarks.
"They want to silence millions of Americans and take over the Senate so they can take over elections, so they can take over America," McConnell said. "Leading Democrats say they want to break the Senate because of a sinister anti-voting plot that is sweeping America. This is totally fake. It does not exist.
"The current control of Congress and the White House were decided in 2020 by the highest turnout in 120 years – 94% of voters said voting was easy.
"More Americans say current voting laws are too lax than say they are too restrictive. Confronted by the facts, the Democratic leader says they're irrelevant. He says his entire nuclear push is occasioned by what a few states did in 2021.
"But this is nonsense."
McConnell finished echoing the Democrats' own past remarks defending the filibuster.
"A radical Senate takeover for a radical elections takeover, for a radical takeover of our nation’s future," he concluded. "What the Democratic leader wants to do would not protect our democracy or our system of government. It would destroy a key feature of American government – forever.
"And senators on both sides know it."
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