It’s not getting much attention, but Democrats made it clear in the last week that they are offering Republicans an ultimatum on Senate legislative obstructionism: Give them what they want in politics, or they’ll blow up the 60-vote rule and claim that the Republicans forced them to do so.
President Biden tiptoed to that threat in his press conference Thursday by endorsing a “talking filibuster,” which is a minor change, but anyone who hears him has heard. “We are going to do a lot,” he said. “And if we have to, if there is a total blockade and chaos as a result of obstructionism, then we will have to go beyond what I am talking about.
Biden appears to be equating the GOP’s opposition to Democratic legislation with “total lockdown and chaos,” as if those were words that had once been used to describe the serious senate. But heed the implied warning. If Republicans disagree with his priorities, then breaking the filibuster will be justified.
Senate Democrats also laid out that strategy through an op-ed by Maine Senator Angus King this week in the Washington Post.
“As we enter this new Congress with a new president and a new majority in the Senate (barely), the question for me is how [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues will play their hand; if they are willing to work to find compromise and consensus on important initiatives (infrastructure, voting rights or immigration reform, for example), the importance of getting rid of obstructionism diminishes, ”wrote King. “If, on the other hand, they simply say no, the need, and the likelihood, of obstructionist reform would only increase. In other words, to a large extent the result is in their hands ”.