Ilhan Omar Rallies Democrats to Counter Mitch McConnell: 'Let's Grow a Backbone'

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has called on Democrats to "grow a backbone" and move to abolish the filibuster after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he was focused on blocking President Joe Biden's agenda.

The Minnesota Democrat said the party needed to move forward with bills that delivered "progress for the American people" and hit out at the notion of bipartisanship in response to McConnell's remarks.

At a press conference on Wednesday, McConnell said his party was "100 percent" focused on "stopping" the Biden administration. He said that a "narrow majority" of Democrats in the Senate threatened to turn America into a socialist country.

Responding to these comments on social media, Omar said: "Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on.

"Democrats can't repeat the mistake of 2009, we must abolish the filibuster & move legislation that helps us deliver progress for the American people. Let's grow a backbone."

She was not the only Democratic lawmaker to take aim at the filibuster after McConnell's remarks on blocking the White House's agenda.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted: "End the filibuster. Deliver for the people."

"We can't let obstructionists block us from getting things done in the Senate and delivering results for the American people," Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) added. "If that takes reforming the filibuster, I'm for that. If it takes getting rid of the filibuster, I'm for that too."

The filibuster is a parliamentary tactic that allows senators to prolong debate on a bill they oppose to block it ever going to a vote in the upper chamber. A supermajority of 60 votes is needed to stop a filibuster and end debate, which effectively means bills need supermajority support to pass.

One way around the rule is to present measures in a budget reconciliation bill—the mechanism Democrats used to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package earlier this year.

A budget reconciliation bill can pass with a simple majority of votes in the Senate, meaning Democrats would be able to pass key planks of their agenda thanks to their 51-50 control of the upper chamber.

But the Senate parliamentarian, an bipartisan figure, can advise whether or not an item can be included in a budget reconciliation bill as per the Byrd Rule. Their advice is not binding, but the Biden administration did not include a hike in the federal minimum wage in its relief bill earlier this year on the basis of the parliamentarian's advice.

A number of Democrats now argue that the filibuster should be removed as a roadblock to legislation that commands support of a simple majority in the upper chamber.

However, some moderate lawmakers in the caucus are opposed to abolition of the tactic. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has repeatedly defended the filibuster rule, but signaled on CNN last night that he would be willing to have "another discussion" if the GOP refused a package in which everyone had had input and adjustments had been made accordingly.

Newsweek has contacted Rep. Omar for further comment.

Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks during a press conference at a memorial site for Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 20, 2021. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images