Sen. McConnell?s ?Self-Filibuster? Generates Momentum for Senate Rules Reform

Washington, DC – Citing the bizarre occasion of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “self filibuster” Thursday, a range of voices are noting how the event demonstrates unprecedented levels of Senate obstruction and the need for real Senate rules reform.  Among the reactions:

•    Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)  said, “I don't know how the Republicans can say they're not abusing the filibuster after what we saw on the floor today.”

•    Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, said, “The chief opponent of filibuster reform has now made the best case for why we need to fix the Senate now.  Mitch McConnell’s ridiculous self-filibuster is just the latest example of how current rules have turned the Senate into a theater of the absurd rather than a place where our nation’s most pressing problems – from the fiscal showdown to the climate crisis – can be solved.”

•    Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice, said in a statement, “If we didn’t know better we’d think Sen. McConnell was moonlighting as a writer for The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.  But Sen. McConnell’s theater-of-the-absurd actually illustrates an extremely serious problem: the paralysis in the Senate caused by Republican abuse of the filibuster.  The filibuster was intended to be used in extreme circumstances, where fundamental principles were at stake. But Senate Republicans have turned it into a weapon of mass obstruction to bring the business of the Senate to a halt.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in our federal courts.   As we document in our recent report, Senate Republicans repeatedly have abused the filibuster to block votes on nominees for federal judgeships – including noncontroversial nominees with broad bipartisan support.  That’s led to unconscionable delays and severe hardship for hundreds of thousands of Americans, forced to wait months, sometimes years to fight for their rights in court. That’s why it’s time to ring down the curtain on the theater of the absurd and enact serious reforms to Senate rules.”   

•    Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), said, “The spectacle of Mitch McConnell filibustering his own bill after he tried and failed to score partisan points underscores the fact that Senate obstruction has been driven by politics, not principle…This is just the latest example of why we will continued to fight for real Senate rules reform and why change in the Senate is sorely needed.”  

•    James Fallows of The Atlantic, a longtime supporter of Senate rules reform, wrote a post titled, “A Newly Preposterous Low for McConnell (and the Filibuster), “My admiration for the Senate's minority leader, the Hon. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is limited. But his latest move took even me by surprise.  In a tactic he thought would put the Obama Administration in an uncomfortable position, yesterday McConnell proposed a measure that would give the president, rather than the Congress, the responsibility for raising the federal debt ceiling.  Then, when Democrats surprised him by being willing to bring it up for a vote, McConnell reacted in the way that comes most naturally to him: by threatening a filibuster. Attentive readers will recall that over the past six years, McConnell has been responsible for most of the filibusters in America's 225-year Constitutional history. The novelty this time is that he was filibustering his own proposal.”

Contact: Michael Earls at 202-261-2388

The Fix the Senate Now coalition includes the Alliance for Justice, the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Sierra Club, and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).