McConnell relents in Senate filibuster fight, here’s why

Why 'budget reconciliation' is the Democrats’ next parliamentary gambit

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is relenting on his demand that Democrats promise they won’t ditch the filibuster in a power-sharing agreement in a 50-50 Senate. McConnell is willing to deal now because he knows Democrats – and Republicans, for that matter – lack the votes to eliminate the filibuster.

Pay close attention to the language of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tonight.

He’s relenting on his demand that Democrats promise they won’t ditch the filibuster in a power-sharing agreement in a 50-50 Senate. McConnell’s willing to deal now – because he knows Democrats – and Republicans, for that matter – lack the votes to eliminate the filibuster.

So, McConnell is ready to deal.

We knew last week it was unlikely that there were ever the votes to get rid of the filibuster. But failing to eliminate the filibuster simply presents Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with a problem. The left-wing of the Democrat Party will come for Schumer when the Senate fails to pass big-ticket items important to progressives, ranging from climate change to DC statehood. Schumer could only do that by extinguishing the filibuster. But he lacks the votes to do so.

In other words, Schumer has the responsibility, but none of the power.

The converse is true for McConnell: he has the power in a 50-50 Senate, but none of the responsibility. Without question, McConnell may emerge as the most powerful Minority Leader in Senate history.

Now, I’m going to give you a vocabulary term: “Budget Reconciliation.” You’re going to hear a lot about that over the next couple of weeks. Schumer and liberals may not be able to advance much of their legislative agenda due to filibusters. But, they still have one annual option to advance certain legislation with fiscal impacts: It’s called “Budget Reconciliation.” This is the same gambit Democrats used in 2010 to pass the final version of Obamacare when they lacked the votes to overcome a filibuster. Republicans also used the same tactic to repeal and replace Obamacare – but could never come up with enough votes.

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