Mitch McConnell Swipes at Kamala Harris' Senate Role If Filibuster Ends in WSJ Op-Ed

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky took a jab at Vice President Kamala Harris's role in the Senate if the filibuster were to end, in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

In the op-ed, titled "The Scorched Earth Senate," McConnell described a Senate without the filibuster that is "completely drained of comity and consent."

"Imagine a world where every single task requires a physical quorum of 51 senators on the floor—and, by the way, the vice president doesn't count," McConnell wrote.

The Senate currently has a 50-50 split between lawmakers who caucus with Democrats and Republicans. In cases where votes on legislation are tied, the vice president is positioned to break the tie.

According to Steven S. Smith, a professor of political science at Washington University, "The Constitution requires a majority of senators for a quorum to conduct business and the Vice President is not a senator." A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.

The Senate "cannot alter the necessity of obtaining the quorum rule to conduct business" as "it is imposed by the Constitution," Smith said. However, the Senate can adopt additional rules "to limit debate and streamline floor proceedings."

Smith added that, without the filibuster, McConnell and his fellow Republicans would "object to every unanimous consent request, force a vote, and require the majority to muster a quorum and a majority repeatedly, even for the most trivial and mundane matters." The Vice President is not included in the quorum count.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is shown talking to reporters on March 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. McConnell warned Senate Democrats not to abolish the filibuster, saying that he would use procedures to turn the Senate into "a 100-car pileup, nothing moving.” Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Getty Images

"Everything that Democratic Senators did to Presidents Bush and Trump, everything the Republican Senate did to President Obama, would be child's play compared with the disaster that Democrats would create for their own priorities if they broke the Senate," McConnell continued.

The Kentucky Senator then noted, "even the most mundane tasks of our chamber—and therefore of the Biden presidency—would become much harder, not easier, in a postnuclear 50-50 Senate."

The filibuster is a procedure that allows a minority group of lawmakers to delay or block the passage of a majority-backed bill by debating it for a long period of time. It exploits the rules set under another parliamentary process called the cloture.

Cloture requires at least 60 senators to vote in favor of ending the debate on legislation. This means that one party needs to hold a supermajority in the upper chamber.

Members of Congress have debated whether the filibuster should be abolished or reformed as Democrats hold the majority in both chambers.

McConnell previously defended the 60-vote threshold in a Tuesday floor speech by warning Democrats that if they changed the rules of the filibuster, it wouldn't speed up President Joe Biden's administration's agenda. It would rather encourage Republicans to use other options to slow down the upper chamber.

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, McConnell wrote, "This chaos wouldn't open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup— nothing moving as gawkers watch."

The Kentucky Senator added that "majorities are never permanent." He said the next time Republicans have control of both Congress and the White House, they would take actions toward "erasing every liberal change" with "zero input from the other side" if the filibuster was abolished.

Newsweek reached out to Harris and McConnell's offices, but didn't hear back in time for publication.