Democrats' attempts to circumvent filibuster will not be 'cost-free,' McConnell warns

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Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that even if Democrats' attempts to circumvent the filibuster fail, they will not be "harmless" or "cost-free," ABC News reported.

The Senate began debating President Biden's ambitious — and likely doomed — voting rights legislation Tuesday. Under current Senate rules, Democrats would need a supermajority of 60 votes to stop a GOP filibuster.

All 50 Senate Republicans oppose the legislation.

Democrats originally introduced two voting rights bills — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — but the House combined the two into one bill, which is now before the Senate.

In a Jan. 11 speech, Biden called on Senate Democrats to alter the rules to allow themselves to end the filibuster with a simple, 51-vote majority. This rule change would itself require only 51 votes, but Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) both oppose the carveout.

Politico reported Saturday that Sinema said she supports the bill but opposes changing the filibuster because Republicans could use the same tactic to repeal the legislation next time they're in the majority.

McConnell warned that even though Democrats' efforts were likely to fail, their actions could still undermine democratic norms and increase the probability that lawmakers from both parties will make similar attempts in the future.

"Too many of our colleagues across the aisle still want to respond to a 50-50 Senate with a rule-breaking power grab," he said Tuesday, adding that "voting to break this institution will not be a free vote or a harmless action, even if efforts fail."

"Voting to break the Senate is not cost-free, just because of a bipartisan majority of your colleagues have the wisdom to stop you," he said.

In 2017, McConnell implemented a carveout similar to the one he now opposes to end a Democratic filibuster of then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

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