McConnell: If Democrats Eliminate Filibuster the Senate Will Be ‘100-Car Pileup’

March 17, 2021 Updated: March 17, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent another warning to Democrats about what would happen if they heed the calls from their party to eliminate the Senate filibuster rule, the 60-vote threshold that allows the minority party to have some influence over legislation.

“It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books, the Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup, nothing moving,” said McConnell from the Senate floor Tuesday. “Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like.”

To pass the Biden administration’s legislative agenda in the coming year and not be impeded by the filibuster requiring Democrats to win over at least 10 Republicans to pass legislation, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for an end to the rule, reversing his decades-long opinion that it should be kept regardless of the majority party.

“Today’s filibuster throws a system out of balance, giving one half of one branch of government what amounts to veto power over the rest of government. It promotes gridlock, not good governance. As I said, senators don’t have to stand for even one minute,” Durbin said from the Senate floor on Monday.

McConnell said that Democrats are pressuring Durbin and other more moderate Democrats.

“Now, under pressure from the outside, many of our Democratic colleagues are abandoning their stated principles as fast as possible. Yesterday, Sen. Durbin said the filibuster is not a core principle but ‘an off-handed clerical suggestion,’” said McConnell.

While Durbin has changed his stance on the filibuster, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both recently stated that they would not change their minds and vote to end the rule. McConnell, however, said Democrats are trying to pressure those two senators.

“A number of Senate Democrats are trying to pressure the senior senators from West Virginia and Arizona to abandon their own very recent commitments to honor the central rule of the Senate,” said McConnell.

However, Manchin told reporters Tuesday that he is not being pressured by his party to change his mind on the filibuster because they know his stance.

“I’m just in the same place I’ve always been on the filibuster. That basically I sit in Robert C. Byrd’s seat. There’s not a person that defended the Senate more than he did, that believed in the rules of the Senate and the specific cause of the Senate, which is basically the minority has input because what goes around here comes around here,” said Manchin.

McConnell has repeatedly stated that the Senate is a legislative body that is there to deliberate and cooperates “to ensure that federal laws in our big diverse country earn broad enough buy-in to receive the lasting consent of the governed.”

The former majority leader said he was pressured by former President Donald Trump to abandon the filibuster but he refused, and when President Joe Biden was elected it did not mean that every U.S. voter wants to “transform America” with Democrat policies.

“There was no mandate to completely transform America by the American people on Nov. 3. That may be what a few liberal activists want, but does anyone believe that millions of Americans thought that’s what they were electing?” said McConnell.

The Kentucky senator warned of what would happen if Republicans regained control of the Senate.

“And then there’s a small matter that majorities are actually never permanent,” said McConnell. “But even more dramatic, as soon as Republicans wound up back in the saddle, we wouldn’t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country, we’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero, zero input from the other side.”

He gave examples of the legislative agenda that Republicans would enact if the filibuster is removed and their party gets control of the Senate and House, including defunding Planned Parenthood, strict border control, and strengthening domestic energy policies.