U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell on 2021 Senate Rules CSPAN January 26, 2021 12:59pm-1:13pm EST
republican colleagues to advance this legislation in a bipartisan way. but the work must move forward. preferably with our republican colleagues, but without them if we must. we are still in the midst of a once in a century crisis that has reshaped our economy and altered nearly every aspect of american life. americans are still getting sick. americans are still dying. americans are still losing their jobs. we must not suffer delay. there is great urgency to continue the work of covid relief, and that's exactly what the senate will do. i yield the floor.
>> mr. president, yesterday two democratic senators confirmed they will not provide the post to eliminate the legislative filibuster. senior senator from west virginia issued a public quote guarantee end quote. i do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition, end quote. .. whatsoever. the senior senator from arizona made the same commitment. she opposes ending the legislative filibuster and, quote, is not open -- not open to changing her mind, end quote. our colleague informed m eour colleague informed me under no circumstances would she reverse course.
thatshould not be news that a few members of the majority led a wall tear up a central rule .but the democratic leader was reluctant to the step i took as majority leader in unified government when i ruled out that step on principle. rather than relying on the democratic leader, i took the discussiondirectly to his members . basic arithmetic now ensures that there are not enough votes to break the rule. this victory will let us move forward with a 50-50 power-sharing agreement containing all the elements of the 2001 model because it will ship on the very same foundation. i want to discuss the precipice from which the senate has stepped back. in 2013 senator reid began the nuclear exchangeover nominations . i said democrats would regret it.
a few years later we have many federal judges including three supreme court justices who were confirmed with fewer than 60 votes . the back-and-forth exchange over nominations had one institutional silverlining n. because routinely, filibustering the nominations was itself a modern invention pioneered by senate democrats in the2000 . so on nominations for all the fighting, the senate just simply circled back to the simple majority threshold that had been our long-standing norm on nominations. that is on the executive calendar. legislation is very different. when it comes to lawmaking the primary position in our history are abundantly clear . the senate exists to require deliberation and cooperation. james madison said the senate
job was to provide a complicated check, complicated check he said against improper acts of legislation . we ensure that laws earn enough buy-in to receive lasting consent of the governed. we stopped bad ideas and improvegood ideas and keep laws from swinging wildly with every election . our friend lamar alexanderput it this way in his farewell speech . he said the senate exists to produce broad agreements on controversial issues that become lost most of us have voted for and that a diverse country will accept more than any other feature is the senate's 60 vote threshold to end debate onlegislation that achieves this . it ensures their interests cannot ignore the rest of the country. it embodies jeffersons great innovation should not be forced on slender majorities.
the bar for lawmaking is high. it should be high. even if both bodies take things frustrated by it. ifyour legislation can't pass the senate , you don't scrap the rules. or lower the standards. you improve your idea. take your case to the people. or both. four years ago, republicans had just one unified control. president trump and others pressured us heavily, me in particular to scrap this rule when was protecting the democratic majority ,minority . but we stood firm. i stood firm and endured many tweets on the subject. i said we would not do that to our colleagues in the minority. no short-term policy win
justifies destroying the senate as we know it . llespecially since laws would become so brittle and reversible. so democratic senators use the 60 vote threshold to shape legislation, they stall relief and block police reform, they stopped even modest measuresto protect innocent life . because i chose not to destroy the two allotments to do that. that same tool that some democrats now want to destroy they used freely and liberally. throughout their years in the minority and i protected their ability to do that. republicans understand you don't destroy the senate for a fleeting advantage. our friends across the aisle must see the same. i've talked a lot about principle. we should also make this a little more tangible .
so let's take a look at what would happen if in fact the legislative filibusterwas gone . if the democratic majority were to attack the filibuster they would guarantee themselves immediate chaos . especially in this 50-50 senate. this body operates every day, every hour by consent. and destroying the filibuster would drain comedy and consent from this body to a degree that mowould be unparalleled inliving memory so let's look at some examples . the constitution requires the senate to have a quorum to do any business. right now, the quorum is 51. and the vice president does not count. to establish a quorum.
the majority cannot even e produce a quorum on their own and one could be demanded by any senator at almost any time. our committees need quorums to function as well. we will also be evenly split. if this majority went scorched earth, this body would grind to a halt like we've never seen. technically it takes collegiality and consent for the majority to keep acting as the majority at any time they do notphysically have a majority . in a scorched earth, post nuclear senate, that's 50-50 like we have today, every senate democrat andvice president could essentially just block out the next two years on their calendar . they have to behere all the time . it takes unanimous consent to schedule most votes . to schedule speeches.
convene before noon. toschedule many hearings and markups . as democrats just spent four years reminding us it takes consent to confirm even the lowest level nominees at anything beyond that the snail's pace . none of us have ever seen senate where every single thing either happens in the hardest possible way or not at all. once or twice every day the majority leader reid througha paragraph of routine requests . objections could turn each one into multiple lengthy rollcall votes. none of us on either sidewant to live in a scorched earth senate . the institution and american ca people deserve a lot better. but there's no doubt, none that's what we see if democrats tear up this pivotal rule.
it would become immediately and painfully clear to the democratic majority that they had indeed just broken the senate . this gambit would not speed the democrats ambitions. it would delay them terribly. and it would hamstring the biden presidency over a power grab which the president has spent decades warning against and still opposes. finally, at some point the shoe would find its way to the other foot. when republicans next control the government, we would be able to repealevery bill that had just been rand through . and we'd set about offending the unborn, exporting domestic energy, unleashing free enterprise to fund sanctuary cities,securing the
border, protecting workers paychecks from union bosses . you get the picture. but a few years later democrats would try to flip it all back . so instead of building stable consensus, we would be chaotically swapping party platforms. swinging wildly between divisions that would guarantee half the country is miserable and resentful at any given time. we would have inherited resilience institutions but left behind a chaotic mess . we are in a politically charged period. but when factional fever runs hot, when slender majorities are most tempted to ram throughradicalism , these are the times for which the guardrails exist. in the first place.
republicans said no emphatically no to pushing the senate over this precipice. when i could have tried to the power, i turned it down. told president trump know, repeatedly because the nation needs us to respect the framers designed and the sentence structure. because as i said in a different context on january 6, we have a higher calling than endless partisan escalation. we place our trust in the institution itself. and a common desire to do the right thing. i'm grateful that's been reciprocated by at least a pair of our colleaguesacross the aisle .
i'm glad we've stepped back from this cliff. taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. it would be a nightmare. i guarantee it. it's been my good fortune to serve in the senate for 24 years . i have great respect for this institution . and continue to believe that men and women who served here are extraordinary examples by and large of public service . and that we've done great things of a historic nature. i think of the days of the obama presidency when we had to rescue our economy, make reforms on wall street that made a difference and build a public health system that we aspire to for decades. we ach t