‘Scorched earth’: Mitch McConnell threatens to turn Biden agenda into ‘100-car pile-up’ if Democrats ditch the filibuster

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to upend Senate procedures and use every tool at his disposal to grind the chamber to a halt if the Democratic majority does away with the 60-vote threshold that for decades has protected minority party rights.

“Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane tasks of the Biden presidency would actually be harder, not easier, for Democrats in a post-nuclear Senate,” Mr McConnell said in a fiery speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

“We will use every other rule to make tens of millions of Americans’ voices heard,” he said.

Since 1975, Senate rules have required 60 senators to vote to “invoke cloture” — that is, end debate — on any piece of legislation and bring it up for a vote. If the majority does not have those votes, the minority party (or anyone opposed to the bill in question, for that matter) can stand at the Senate podium and speechify for hours and hours until the majority leader withdraws the bill. That marathon speechifying is called a “filibuster.”

The Senate filibuster rules as currently written, in effect, have meant a bill needs 60 senators to support it for it to pass — not the simple 51-vote majority outlined in the US Constitution.

South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond once filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes, the longest speech in Senate history, to kill the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

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