Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday starkly warned Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) not to eliminate the filibuster on presidential nominations, threatening to end the 60-vote threshold for everything, including bills, if he becomes the majority leader.
“There not a doubt in my mind that if the majority breaks the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate with regard to nominations, the next majority will do it for everything,” McConnell said on the floor.
With at least half a dozen key judicial and cabinet nominees pending, all of whom Republicans have problems with, Reid has threatened to invoke the so-called nuclear option to change the rules of the Senate and eliminate the filibuster on nominations — but not anything else.
Backed up by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who echoed his warnings in a floor colloquy Tuesday, McConnell said his hypothetical majority would take it a step further.
“I wouldn’t be able to argue, a year and a half from now if I were the majority leader, to my colleagues that we shouldn’t enact our legislative agenda with a simple 51 votes, having seen what the previous majority just did,” he said. “I mean there would be no rational basis for that.”
The minority leader sketched out what a Republican-led Senate would do with 51 votes. Job No. 1, he said, would be to repeal Obamacare. He also mentioned lifting the ban on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the estate tax (which he called the “death tax”).
“These are the kinds of priorities that our members feel strongly about, and I think I would be hard pressed,” McConnell said, “to argue that we should restrain ourselves from taking full advantage of this new Senate.”
“From the country’s point of view, it’s a huge step in the wrong direction,” he said.