GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to force an early procedural fight over the filibuster and whether Democrats could potentially eliminate it if Senate Republicans use it to obstruct Biden’s agenda—much like they did to Barack Obama.
But Democrats are united. Tester, who hails from a more conservative-leaning state, is on the exact same page as progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren noted that while McConnell was happy to nix the filibuster to pack the Supreme Court with conservative justices, “he’s not ok getting rid of the filibuster for unemployment relief for families that are out of work because of COVID-19.”
The message coming from the White House is exactly the same—Biden is focused on delivering what he promised, a laser focus on resolving the pandemic and helping Americans through the worst of times.
“The issue that he wakes up every day focused on is getting this pandemic under control,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday during her inaugural press briefing. “The issue he goes to bed every night focused on is getting this pandemic under control.”
When one reporter noted that some Republicans are balking at the $1.9 trillion price tag of Biden’s COVID relief package, Psaki kept the focus on all the critical provisions included in the measure. “What are you going to cut? Funding for vaccinations? Funding for unemployment insurance? Funding for opening schools?”
Look, McConnell is trying to force Democrats into a governing agreement for the upper chamber that would make it harder for them to end the filibuster if necessary. But as former Harry Reid aide Adam Jentleson said of the filibuster, the key for Democrats is to rally around what Americans need, not some wonky argument over Senate procedure. “I think people need to keep their eyes focused on the question of delivering results,” he said. “This is about senators elected by the people of their states delivering results for those people.”
That’s exactly what Democrats from the White House all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue to Congress are preaching. Let McConnell keep huffing and puffing about the filibuster. If Democrats stay focused on what they are attempting to deliver to struggling Americans in order to get the country back on its feet, McConnell loses that argument and he knows it.