McConnell to Break Stalemate Over Senate Control After Filibuster Assurances

January 25, 2021 Updated: January 26, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday announced that he is ready to move forward on a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats after securing assurances that they will not vote to remove the legislative filibuster.

“Today, two Democratic Senators confirmed that they will not end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden’s and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation,” McConnell said in a statement, referring to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.”

Shortly prior to McConnell’s statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Rachel Maddow that “there are ways to deal” with McConnell if he insists on the organizing resolution, which sought to protect the filibuster.

“We’ve told McConnell no on the organizing resolution and that’s that so there’s no negotiations on that. We’ve given him what he should do, which is come to agree to what was done in 2001, which is fair. If not, as I said, stay tuned,” Schumer said.

Asked to share his plan, Schumer said, “there are ways to deal with him.”

There are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

Impeachment Trial

Schumer and McConnell have been working to hash out an agreement as the Senate moves close to conducting the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Feb. 8. The constitutionality of the trial is in question since Trump is now a private citizen. Democrats have accused the former president of inciting an insurrection in relation to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

McConnell has told Schumer that retaining the legislative filibuster is important and should be part of their negotiations for a power-sharing agreement in the narrowly divided Senate. The pair met last week to begin hammering out the details of organizing the chamber.

“Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said.

Andres said discussions on “all aspects” of the arrangement will continue.

Normally, a divided chamber would produce a resolution to equally share committee seats and other resources. But McConnell is driving a harder bargain by inserting his demand that Schumer keep the filibuster procedure in place.

Schumer faces pressure from the progressive flank to end the filibuster but he has not committed to doing so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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