Well, that didn't take long, did it? But don't despair progressives, here's some good news if it holds:
So far, Democrats have not taken kindly to the hostage-taking.There's already the fact that the 50 Democrat Senators represent 40+ million more Americans than do their 50 GOP counterparts, and now Mitch McConnell is demanding that the Dems simply give up their power for the sake of allowing him to stymie whatever policies Schumer and the Democrats may try to implement that many won their seats by advocating.
"It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted. "We won the Senate. We get the gavels."
Accordingly, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, firmly dismissed McConnell's demand.
"Unfortunately we're not going to give him what he wishes," he told reporters on Thursday. "If you did that then there would be just unbridled use of it. I mean nothing holding him back."
McConnell's power grab leaves Democrats in a difficult position. They don't want to capitulate to such a request in the very first days of Biden's administration or to lose the power of the nuclear option threat down the line. But they also don't want McConnell to drag the fight out, leaving Republicans in charge of key committees and blocking Biden's nominees in the meanwhile.
Baked into that bet is the assumption that Democrats will fail to rally their conservative members " Sens. Joe Manchin (R-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), etc. " who have in the past expressed opposition to getting rid of the filibuster.
But if he's wrong, if he's overstepped, he may have provided the push those Democrats need to get on board.
[T]he filibuster is not even an actual Senate tradition. It was only in the last two decades that the upper chamber began imposing a 60-vote threshold on all major bills, rather than reserving the filibuster for exceptionally divisive fights. The filibuster's defenders insist that the rule facilitates cooperation and bipartisanship. Yet the era of the 60-vote threshold has also been one of the least bipartisan and most dysfunctional periods in the Senate's entire history.
Reality is this: if the Democrats allow the Republicans to neuter their policies the GOP will again take over the Senate in 2022. If the Democrats do not do all that they can do in the time that they have they will have no one to blame for their failure but for themselves.