Senate Republicans will do "everything we can" to force the Biden administration to the middle, and if Democrats eliminate the filibuster, "we will make it difficult still in a 50-50 Senate for them to pass hard-left legislation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Wednesday.
"Hopefully there will be some Democrats who agree with us that America did not last November give a mandate to all the left-wingers who dominate in the Biden administration and who clearly predominate in the House and a majority of Democrats in the Senate," McConnell told Harris Faulkner on Fox News' "The Faulkner Focus." "We'll be looking for moderate Democrats who want to stop the steamroller with or without the continuation of the legislative filibuster."
With the exception of a few members, Democrats are pushing to stop the filibuster, a procedural move set in place from the earliest days of the Senate that delays the passage of bills. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have spoken out against ending the filibuster, but Manchin has signaled in recent days he might be open to changes in the procedure.
The Senate filibuster allows for endless debate to stall legislation by keeping the chamber from voting on it. It was first codified in Senate rules in 1917. Before that, the Senate had no rules to end debate, and the chamber installed a 67-vote threshold to create one. That was reduced to 60 in 1975.
Earlier in the 1970s, the Senate opted to allow a filibuster debate to be set aside so that other legislation or business could be conducted.
President Joe Biden, who has spoken out against ending the filibuster, said in an interview airing Wednesday that he wants to see the procedure return to its traditional debate format.
McConnell said Democrats want to change or eliminate the filibuster because they are "very anxious to transform the country immediately, even though the American people sent a 50-50 Senate and a narrowly divided House."
"I don't think they were sending a message that it was a mandate to completely transform the country in every way liberals want to do," McConnell said. "They view the Senate rule which has been there forever that requires a supermajority of 60 to do most of the things we do as an unnecessary inconvenience."
He pointed out that when former President Donald Trump was in office, he also "tried to get me to orchestrate the elimination of the filibuster for a number of years, even tweeted about it," but he refused, telling Trump it was "not in the best interest of the institution and actually not in your best interest, either."
But Democrats are "prepared to steamroll the Senate into a majority body just like the House because it eventually gets in the way of all they want to do to run up the debt, raise taxes, and you've seen the disaster at the border," McConnell said.
He noted that now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., "had it right two years ago" when he opposed ending the filibuster, but now, "he is yielding to the pressure of the hard left to turn the Senate into a speedway as opposed to a place where things are paused and thought over."
McConnell pointed out to Faulkner that the Senate was "created on purpose not to function like the House" but instead to "slow things down, to kill bad ideas, to force bipartisanship, all the things the Democrats believed in as long as there was a Republican in the White House."
Further, McConnell said that "fundamentally turning the Senate into the House" will make it difficult for the chamber to function, because, with a 50-50 Senate, you can't get a quorum.
"Without 51 votes, you can't do business," he said. "Almost every day, most of the things we do are about consent. You hear senators saying, 'I ask unanimous consent' we do this, that or the other. Any one senator can object to a consent request."
But getting rid of the filibuster will make the Senate "work worse," not better, said McConnell, adding that he hopes Manchin and Sinema will "protect the institution," as that is in the "best interest of both parties in the long run."
Meanwhile, Biden is "not supporting things that many Republicans think are a good idea," said McConnell, adding Republicans will continue to oppose agenda items that are not in the best interest of the country, "whether we are able to do that by requiring 60 votes or whether it's done with a simple 51."
The senator also said that if the upcoming infrastructure bill is a "Trojan horse" with a massive tax increase, that will be another problem.
"I think what they have in mind is to call it an infrastructure bill but in it, they'll have a massive tax increase to reverse the tax reform that we enacted in 2017 when we had a Republican government," McConnell said.
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