McConnell pressures Democrats to keep Senate filibuster

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National Guards deploy inside the security perimeter surrounding the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

WASHINGTON – In one of his final acts as majority leader, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is pressuring Democrats to keep the filibuster — the procedural tool that liberals and progressives are eager to to do away with so President-elect Joe Biden's legislative priorities can be approved more easily over GOP opposition.

McConnell has told Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that retaining the legislative filibuster is important and should be part of their negotiations for a power-sharing agreement in the narrowly divided Senate.

Schumer and McConnell met Tuesday to begin hammering out the details of organizing the chamber, which will be split 50-50, with Democrats holding the majority once three new senators are sworn in Wednesday and Kamala Harris is inaugurated as the vice president.

“Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said.

Andres said discussions on “all aspects” of the arrangement will continue.

Normally, a divided chamber would produce a resolution to equally share committee seats and other resources. But McConnell is driving a harder bargain by inserting his demand that Schumer keep the filibuster procedure in place.

Schumer faces pressure from the progressive flank to end the filibuster, but he has not committed to doing so.

A Schumer spokesman, Justin Goodman, said that the Democratic leader “expressed that the fairest, most reasonable and easiest path forward” was to adopt an organizing agreement similar to a 2001 consensus between the parties, the last time the Senate was evenly divided, without “extraneous changes from either side.”