I do believe Democrats were caught off guard by McConnell’s willingness to make a fight over the filibuster essentially the first order of business. They were celebrating their election wins and return to power, and wham, their nemesis was standing in their way again. It was classic McConnell, using a moment of maximum leverage to try to extract something from Democrats.
But Chuck Schumer, the new majority leader, knew he could not cave to McConnell at the start. Once McConnell saw that Democrats were not going to budge, he began looking for a way out and seized on promises by two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to not support any effort to get rid of the filibuster. They had been saying it for months, but it provided an exit and an end to the impasse for the Republicans.
Definitely a defeat for McConnell. Ending the filibuster remains a possible weapon for the Democrats.
How are Democrats responding? Is there a degree to which McConnell’s decision could backfire, by making even moderate Democrats worried that he will grind things to a halt if they keep the filibuster in place?
Democrats are definitely happy they can move on. Many have been waiting for years to chair committees, so this is a very big deal for them.
But this fight is far from over. Democratic strategists think McConnell overreached and just put more focus on the filibuster and the likelihood that Republicans will try to block many of the new administration’s initiatives. Progressive groups that want to get rid of the filibuster so Democrats can do things like expand the Supreme Court and make the District of Columbia a state say they are going to keep up their drive.
The Democratic votes are not there at the moment to overturn the filibuster. But a concerted campaign by Republicans to block big Biden moves on the pandemic, immigration and climate change could change some minds. This will probably take months, if not longer, to play out.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/us/politics/trump-convicted-mcconnell.html