Nearly Every Democrat Tried to “Shatter the Soul of the Senate for Short-Term Power”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Democrats’ radical Senate takeover:
“Well, I think we can all agree on one thing. It’s been a long day. Almost everybody’s had something to say. The reason for that is this is an important day in the history of the Senate. It could be argued this is the most important day in the history of the Senate, as an institution.
“This very day that we are just wrapping up, is in all likelihood, the most important day in the history of the Senate as an institution.
“This evening, fewer than 60 Senators voted to advance a piece of legislation, so it did not move forward. It’s pretty common around here. It happens frequently. In fact, it happened less than a week ago when our Democrat colleagues used the 60-vote threshold to block sanctions against Putin’s pipeline.
“In 2020, Democrats used the filibuster multiple times to delay the CARES Act; kill Senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill; and block bipartisan protections for unborn children.
“Senate minorities can apply the brakes to small majorities. This institution makes major changes earn major buy-in.
“For decades, Americans on all sides acknowledged this. Fifteen years ago — several of us were here 15 years ago — there were 180 civil rights organizations that weighed in in support of the filibuster. Because at that particular point, the filibuster was being used to stop judges appointed by Bush 43. So over 100 civil rights organizations wrote us a letter saying the filibuster is indispensable. It served their purpose at that particular time.
“For decades, Senators on both sides agreed. We’ve quoted each other back and forth. Eloquent filibuster defenses from my colleagues across the aisle when it benefitted them to make those speeches.
“But a leader’s true colors are not revealed when long-term principles and short-term power line up together. That’s easy — when what you’re trying to achieve lines up with the tactics.
“The measure of a leader is what he or she chooses when those two paths diverge. Go in different directions.
“Half the Senate, on this side of the aisle, just spent four years in the majority and we had a president of our party asking us to do what they’re trying to do tonight. We had a one word answer: No. No, we’re not going to fracture the institution to achieve some short-term advantage.
“And actually, astonishingly enough, in 1994 — the best off-year Republican election arguably in American history, we took the House for the first time in 40 years, got the majority back in the Senate — Tom Harkin, Chuck Grassley’s colleague from Iowa, a Democrat, on day one of that session, through the regular order, offered a rules change to lower the threshold to 51.
“Who would have benefited from that? This brand new enthusiastic majority, just having swept the country, would have been the principal beneficiaries of lowering the threshold to 51. But not one single Republican in the majority voted to give themselves an advantage that would break the Senate. Not one.
“So we’ve been consistent on this side of the aisle in support of this institution as long as I’ve been here.
“They [Democrats] face the same decision now. They have a choice. They can break the institution to achieve what they want, or defend the institution.
“So they’ve pivoted. And that’s why so many of them look so foolish. Because they’ve been on the opposite side of this — not a long time ago, but quite recently. So they’ve tried to carve out a special category, that somehow this issue is different from all the other issues and should be treated differently.
“Well on the merits, as we’ve discussed ad nauseam here, this is something they’ve been trying to do here for a long time. The rationale for it has changed periodically depending upon what seemed to make sense. But doll it up any way you choose to — this is a plot to break the Senate.
“Over the issue they’ve chosen: one half of one percent of the American people say election law is their most pressing concern.
“Actually, more Americans — as a number of you have said during the course of this long day —believe voting laws are actually too loose, rather than too strict.
“And — as you’ve said over and over again — Georgia’s new law is arguably more progressive than New York or Delaware.
“And this is the basis on which the President of the United States calls people like us racists and traitors? Over this? Over how many days of early voting you’re going to have? Really?
“This is the basis on which 40-plus Senate Democrats want to not only break their word, but break the Senate?
“This so-called ‘talking filibuster’ proposal is smoke and mirrors. There’s really only one question we’re dealing with here: Would it take 60 votes to pass massive changes? Or could a simple majority ram them through?
“That’s what’s at stake here. Nothing else. Will slender majorities need to build coalitions across the aisle, or not? Will huge chunks of federal law reverse themselves whenever gavels change hands?
“But, colleagues, something even more fundamental is at stake tonight.
“Everyone in this chamber knows that factional fires are burning hot across our country.
“As I look around, I don’t know if this many of us have actually gathered in this chamber together since January 6th of last year. We were all in here then.
“I stood up that day and said self-government requires shared respect for basic ground rules. I said we couldn’t keep drifting into two tribes and delegitimizing the few institutions we still share.
“Yes, the divisions run deep. Compromise is certainly challenging. But it would not serve a divided country if two factions take turns ruling over one another with an iron fist.
“Here is the solution for a divided country: Thoughtful compromise everywhere we can agree… and when we can’t agree, it just doesn’t happen.
“The American people are closely divided. We’re reflected here with a 50-50 Senate for the longest time in American history. There’s not a mandate to fundamentally transform America into something it’s never been. That’s not what the voters voted for.
“We’ve got a narrow majority trying to jam through, one after another, proposals to fundamentally turn us into something we’ve never been.
“Well, here’s the good news: the Framers custom-built the Senate to stop this kind of thing. That’s why this institution was constructed in the first place. We’re sitting in the place designed to stop this kind of thing. And we have the opportunity to do it here tonight.
“This is the first time in history that a Senate Majority Leader who is supposed to safeguard this institution has convinced nearly all of his party to attack the institution. That hasn’t happened before.
“Tonight, for the first time in history, almost an entire political party will write in permanent ink that they would shatter the soul of the Senate for short-term power.
“But a brave, bipartisan majority of this body is about to stop them. We will stop the Democratic Leader from silencing the voices of millions upon millions of Americans who have a right to be heard in this chamber. Many of them represented by us, who come from small states.
“They derisively look down on us as flyover territory. A place nobody wants to stop. The Senate was designed to represent those people. Every state gets two Senators. Some states have only one House member, but two Senators. We are here to protect middle America and the supermajority threshold in the Senate makes that more possible, so they can’t run roughshod over us. They can’t run roughshod over us and the people we represent.
“When our country needs leaders to fight the fires of factionalism, almost half the Senate wants to dump more gasoline right on top of it.
“When our institutions needed defending, a sitting President and a Majority Leader have made smashing the Senate an unofficial part of their party’s platform.
“Thanks to the courageous decision of at least a few of their members, they will not succeed. The country will be shielded from their radicalism tonight. And make no mistake about it, this is radicalism designed to fundamentally change America in every conceivable way to the disadvantage of virtually all the constituents represented on this side of the aisle. And theirs as well, if they were willing to admit it.
“So the Senate will be saved tonight. America can breathe a sigh of relief. This radicalism will have been stopped. And it’s a good day for America”