Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says there would be a 'scorched earth Senate' if Democrats push forward to eliminate the filibuster, which requires a supermajority of 60 votes to pass most types of legislation.
"Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like," he said, predicting that the Senate would turn into "a 100 car pile-up" where "nothing moves" - implying it would somehow be akin to February's 100-car pile-up in Texas where six people died, we guess.
If Dems 'blow up the filibuster,' McConnell says he'll require a quorum for every piece of Democrat legislation - which VP Kamala Harris couldn't become a tie-breaker for, and that previous actions would seem like "child's play."
And while moderate Democrats such as Joe Manchin, and most Republicans, oppose getting rid of the filibuster - Politico's Burgess Everett described it as the "biggest threat" to the GOP in the short term.
Probably Rs biggest threat in the short-term in 50-50 Senate. VP doesn’t count toward a quorum so would get messy quickly https://t.co/ut8hCTjXYM— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) March 16, 2021
More via The Week:
McConnell threatened to push a long list of conservative policies with "zero input" from Democrats if only a simple majority is required. He listed defunding Planned Parenthood, penalizing sanctuary cities, and a national right to work law. McConnell continued by warning he'd require a quorum for everything, making past actions seem like "child's play," reports Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman.
Though it's unclear why McConnell would be opposed to more easily passing his legislative priorities, there are a few reasons Democrats may not be too worried by his threats regardless. NBC News' Benjy Sarlin notes that many of these conservative policies don't have the support of 50+ Republicans anyway, and the GOP didn't use every tool available to pass them even when they held all three branches of government. The Washington Post's Dave Weigel separately argues that many Democrats may feel conservative courts hold the power on some of these issues, so Republican senators' posturing is irrelevant.
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JPMorgan, meanwhile, assumes that Democrats do not remove the filibuster, which would allow Democrats to more easily pass an infrastructure bill without concessions, and would force them to pursue it through a budget process called 'reconciliation' - which allows Democrats to pass legislation by a simple majority in the Senate, yet would also require the support of every single Democrat, which could prove problematic.
That said, Republicans aren't necessarily opposed to an infrastructure bill - with McConnell saying on Tuesday that the GOP 'won't back tax increases' in any infrastructure plan.
Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%
Paring back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses, such as limited-liability companies or partnerships
Raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000
Expanding the estate tax’s reach
A higher capital-gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million annually.(Biden on the campaign trail proposed applying income-tax rates, which would behigher)
Elizabeth Warren’s “Ultra-Millionaire” Tax (WSJ): The legislation would create a 2%annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts between $50 million and $1billion and an additional 1% surtax on those above $1 billion.
If Democrats choose to pursue infrastructure via Reconciliation, then the question becomes how Progressive Manchin and Sinema will vote. While both Senators are concerned about the deficit/total debt levels of the government, it may be easier to win their support with a smaller infrastructure package than with a larger tax proposal. Further, Manchin said that he would not support infrastructure that does not have bi-partisan support, which the proposed bill is unlikely to have. If, in order to pass infra, we need (i) bi-partisan support, (ii) increased taxes to offset, and (iii) this is to be done without removing the filibuster, what can actually be passed?
In short, McConnell is threatening to make Congressional Democrats' lives miserable if they push for a power grab through the elimination of the filibuster, while Democrats know they'll have to negotiate in good faith if they want infrastructure - or any major legislation - to pass with the support of moderate Democrat Joe Manchin - described in January as the most powerful Senator due to this exact scenario.