McConnell Rejects Further Filibuster Reforms: We’ll See What Happens in 2017

So after dropping a lot of hints, Mitch McConnell has made up his mind that no, he will not support any effort to get rid of the Senate filibuster to smooth things for the next Republican president. Alexander Bolton of The Hill has the story:

Senate Republicans appear to be closing the door on gutting the filibuster, brushing aside calls from presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to consider lowering the 60-vote threshold for repealing ObamaCare.

Sources close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) say there’s virtually no chance he will go along with abolishing the filibuster, something he has strongly criticized in the past.

It’s a point on which McConnell and his frequent antagonist, conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), agree. Although Cruz often criticizes McConnell for lacking aggressiveness, he also views abolition of the legislative filibuster as a step too far.

Bush and Walker recently told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt they would support using lowering the threshold for major legislation from 60 votes to a simple majority. Curbing the power of the Senate minority would make it easier to repeal and replace ObamaCare in 2017.

I missed the Bush/Walker lurch into the anti-filibuster camp (where I happen to live), though of course, they were only discussing it in the context of the Great White Whale, Obamacare. And McConnell, of course, might have a change of heart if there’s actually a Republican in the White House and he still has the gavel in the Senate. That’s what Jonathan Chait has concluded, anyway, and I wouldn’t put anything past the slippery McConnell.

As for Democrats, I suppose some will cheer the apparent survival of the filibuster as a hedge against a landslide of Republican legislation (though much of it could probably be accomplished via filibuster-proof reconciliation legislation and semi-filibuster-proof must-pass appropriations bills). Personally, I think a better idea is winning elections.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.