Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats maintain the Senate filibuster that prevented lawmakers from negotiating a power-sharing agreement.
On Monday, McConnell released a statement saying he was ready to move forward after Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both said they would vote against ending the filibuster. Their positions ensure new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn’t have the votes to end the filibuster, something progressive Democrats were pushing for.
The news means that for the first time since 2001 Republicans and Democrats will work on a power-sharing deal and Democrats will have the tie-breaking vote through Vice President Kamala Harris.
Both sides shaped the situation as beneficial in statements they gave Monday.
“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001,” McConnell said Monday. “With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.”
“There has been notable progress in my discussions with the Republican leader,” Schumer said Tuesday, adding that “we’re finally able to get the Senate up and running.”
Schumer and McConnell will now negotiate the terms of their power-sharing agreement, known as an organizing resolution. Had an agreement not been reached, Democrats would have maintained control of the floor and the legislative agenda, but key committees would’ve been led by Republicans, which would’ve stalled President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.
Now, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will lead the Budget Committee, Ron Wyden (D-OR) will lead the Finance Committee, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will lead the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and Patty Murray (D-WA) will lead the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The agreement is likely to be tested early in Biden’s administration. It’s only a matter of time before Republicans use the filibuster to try to stall Biden’s semi-progressive agenda. That could lead to progressive Democrats applying pressure to Schumer to get rid of the filibuster.