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January 26, 2021

Path to Senate power-sharing deal opens with McConnell statement

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has issued a statement suggesting that comments by Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposing filibuster repeal have provided assurances adequate for him to move ahead with a power-sharing agreement similar to 2001, the last time the Senate was split 50-50.

The lack of agreement has been an impediment to business in the Senate and, without an organizing resolution, Republicans have technically remained in control of most Senate committees.

Senator Sinema said through an aide yesterday that she is "against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster." Manchin told reporters, "I do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition."

The development came amid a focus on how Democrats can advance their agenda with a 50-50 Senate. Efforts to move President Biden's COVID/stimulus bill are focused, for now, on winning bipartisan support, with the expectation that budget reconciliation could be used if that support doesn't materialize. President Biden said Monday that it will be up to congressional leaders to determine the process and, "The decision to use reconciliation will depend upon how these negotiations go."

Ending the filibuster wasn't necessarily being eyed for the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill but could be have been considered as an option for moving future legislation. Another Democrat, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), was quoted in the New York Times as saying he strongly backs the filibuster, but "I am here to get things done … If all that happens is filibuster after filibuster, roadblock after roadblock, then my opinion may change."

Sen. McConnell's statement follows:

"Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden's and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation.

"The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate's last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent."


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