Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced legislation to raise the debt ceiling on Thursday, apparently with the intent of showing that even Democrats would not support such a bill.
However, McConnell’s plan backfired after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called for a vote on the legislation, which would have given the president the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own. The top Senate Republican was forced to filibuster his own bill.
“What we have here is a case of Republicans here in the Senate once again not taking ‘yes’ for an answer,” Reid said, after McConnell announced his filibuster. “This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal, just now I told everyone we were willing to have that vote — up or down vote. Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill, so I object.”
Apparently aware the incident would bring media attention, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed astonishment at McConnell’s legislative antics.
“What just transpired deserves a word,” he remarked. “Sen. McConnell came to the floor this morning and offered a change in law that would help us avoid the kind of obstruction and the kind of show downs we’ve had in the past over the debt ceiling.”
Durbin explained “to those who don’t follow the Senate” that by calling for the legislation to be passed by a 60-vote majority, McConnell had filibustered the bill. He said this was probably the first time in history that a senator had filibuster his own proposal.
Reid and other Democrats have called for the Senate’s filibuster rules to be reformed, claiming that Republicans have abused the parliamentary procedure and obstructed lawmaking.