Mitch McConnell Wins Filibuster Battle as Primary Pressure Builds on Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won the filibuster battle on Monday, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer faced mounting pressure from his home state to end the procedural tool amidst a potential primary challenge.

Two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—affirmed their support for protecting the 60-vote legislative filibuster today. Their positions have assured Republicans that Democrats don't have enough votes to nix the procedural tool despite escalating pressure from progressives and outside left-wing activist groups. Shortly after, McConnell confirmed that power sharing negotiations will continue after days of deadlock over how to organize the 50-50 split Senate.

"Today, two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster," McConnell said. "They agree with President Biden's and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation."

Mitch McConnell after Biden's inauguration
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky after the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Melina Mara/Getty

"The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate's last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent," he added.

Meanwhile, Schumer is facing increasing primary pressure as he juggles competing priorities within the fractured Democratic party, including the recent calls to kill the filibuster. Progressives want to pave the way for Biden to push through a left-wing agenda without interruption under the currently Democratic-controlled Senate, while moderates are hesitant to completely restrain Republicans' influence on legislative matters.

According to Politico, Just Democracy, a coalition of dozens of organizations championed by minorities, is launching an ad campaign in Schumer's home state of New York to pressure the senate leader into eliminating the filibuster.

The ads will go up in Times Square and will feature quotes from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling it a "cherished tool of segregationists." Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez refused to rule out challenging Schumer in the 2022 election cycle.

Additionally, Schumer still has to maneuver former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, confirm Biden's Cabinet picks and manage the next stimulus package, which Senate Republicans have already opposed. Even if he wanted to abolish the filibuster, the Democrat would have to not only convince moderates, but also potentially Biden, who campaigned heavily on the promise of unity between parties.

McConnell and Schumer are expected to negotiate a deal similar to the 2001 power sharing agreement. Without nixing the filibuster, Democrats could still use reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority, but that method can only be used on spending and tax bills.

Newsweek reached out to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for comment.