Democrats renew calls to end the filibuster after McConnell said he’s ‘100%’ focused on stopping Biden

Mitch McConnell
“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday.

  • McConnell said Wednesday “one-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”
  • His remarks cast doubt on hopes for bipartisanship and prompted renewed calls to end the filibuster.
  • Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were among the lawmakers to renews calls for an end to the rule.
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After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his entire focus is on stopping President Joe Biden’s administration, Democratic lawmakers renewed calls to end the filibuster.

Speaking of the GOP, McConnell told reporters outside his Kentucky home on Wednesday that “100% of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” NBC News reported.

“We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100% of my focus,” he said.

Democratic members of Congress seized on the remarks as evidence that bipartisanship was not possible and stressed the necessity of ending the filibuster, a rule that requires a 60-vote super-majority to pass legislation in the 100-person Senate.

Read more: 9 hurdles facing Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure, jobs, and tax plan as Republicans pitch a less-pricey alternative

“The Constitution doesn’t say anything about it taking a super-majority of 60 senators to pass a bill,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet. “It’s time to get rid of the filibuster so Mitch McConnell doesn’t get a veto over the will of the people.”

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California said McConnell is using “the same playbook he’s used for years.”

“Anyone expecting a return to some bygone era of bipartisanship isn’t acknowledging the reality that we are in. We MUST eliminate the filibuster,” he said in a tweet.

The Senate is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, and some Democrats have called for the end of the filibuster as the only way for the Biden administration to accomplish its agenda. Biden himself has said the filibuster has been “abused.”

“If we’re going to achieve anything meaningful for working families we must use reconciliation, abolish the filibuster and pass legislation with 51 votes. We can’t afford to wait,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in response to McConnell’s comments.

But some moderates don’t agree. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both refused to support the effort to abolish the filibuster, with Manchin saying it was designed to encourage bipartisan consensus, something that some progressives view as unrealistic.

“Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted in response to McConnell.

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

McConnell’s statements came the same week that former Republican Rep. Justin Amash, who joined the Libertarian party in 2019, praised progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for visiting his University of Chicago class.

Justin Amash AOC

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Rep. Ilhan Omar shares details about her warm relationship with ‘Auntie’ Nancy Pelosi

ilhan omar nancy pelosi
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on March 08, 2019.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar talked to journalist Susan Page about her relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • Pelosi was one of the first people to congratulate Omar on her primary win in 2018.
  • Pelosi would check in on Omar so regularly that Omar’s aides would joke, “Auntie Nancy’s calling.”
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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota shared details about her relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time, and revealed that the two lawmakers are, in fact, friends.

Speaking to USA Today journalist Susan Page for her upcoming book, “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power,” which comes out Tuesday, Omar said Pelosi was one of the very first people to congratulate her on her primary victory in 2018.

“You’re going to win, so we’ll see you in November,” Pelosi told Omar at the time, according to an excerpt of the book published in Politico on Thursday.

During that phone call, the incoming freshman lawmaker, who wears a hijab and would soon become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, voiced concerns to Pelosi about the House’s headgear ban.

“Will they amend that for me?” Omar asked Pelosi, per the Politico excerpt. “Would I be able to sit as a member of Congress?”

Pelosi informed Omar not to fret and that she would take care of the issue. She did.

That conversation laid the groundwork for what would eventually become a warm friendship between the two. Although the House speaker would later tussle with members of the so-called Squad – consisting of Omar, and fellow progressive Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts – Omar and Pelosi remained on good terms.

Pelosi would check in on Omar so frequently after that phone call, to the point where Omar’s aides would joke: “Auntie Nancy’s calling.”

In February 2019, top congressional Democrats, including Pelosi, publicly called on Omar to apologize for her tweets that critics claimed repeated anti-Semitic tropes. The tweets in question, which have since been removed, appeared to suggest that Republicans’ support for Israel is driven by money. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar wrote at the time.

Privately, however, Pelosi lent a hand to Omar, and the two had conversations about the situation, according to the book.

“[Pelosi] wasn’t depriving me of the agency of being able to understand the gravity of whatever was happening,” Omar told Page, adding that the House speaker was polite and did not boss her around, the Politico excerpt said.

The lawmakers have kept up their alliance. Pelosi endorsed Omar for her 2020 reelection, and Omar voted for Pelosi as House speaker for this year’s new Congress.

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Rep. Ilhan Omar slams Biden’s ‘shameful’ plan to restart construction on Trump’s ‘xenophobic and racist’ wall

ilhan omar joe biden trump wall racist
“It’s shameful and unacceptable for @POTUS to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall,” Omar Tweeted.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar criticized President Biden for “continuing the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall.”
  • The Biden administration reportedly plans to continue “limited” construction on the wall.
  • President Biden had previously promised not to build “another foot of wall” during his presidency.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar has criticized President Joe Biden for continuing the construction of Donald Trump’s “xenophobic and racist” southern border wall.

“It’s shameful and unacceptable for @POTUS to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall,” Omar said on Twitter.

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to resume some construction along the wall in order to plug “gaps” in it, the Washington Times reported this week.

Biden had previously pledged not to build “another foot of wall,” during his presidency.

The news came after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly told colleagues that while the White House had frozen spending for wall projects, “that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

He said that “gaps,” gates, and parts of the wall where technology had not yet been installed could still be built, the Washington Times reported. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on Wednesday.

President Biden froze federal funding for wall construction on his first day in office and issued a 60-day moratorium in which he instructed officials to find a legal way to divert billions of dollars in funding that had been allocated for the wall, a deadline which has since passed.

When asked whether the administration did plan to plug “gaps” in the wall, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that most construction works had been paused but indicated that some for which funding had been allocated would continue.

“Wall construction remains paused, to the extent permitted by law,” Psaki said. “So some has already been funded through a congressional authorization and funding allocation. But as agencies develop for a plan – it’s paused while agencies are developing a plan for the President on the management of the federal funds.”

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AOC, Ilhan Omar, and other progressives continue criticism of Senate’s modified $1.9 trillion stimulus package

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar this weekend pointed out what they saw as shortcomings in the Senate’s revised COVID-19 relief bill, including the removal of a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. 

The $1.9 trillion package approved by the Senate on Saturday would provide essential aid, but didn’t go far enough, they said. 

“We remain extremely disappointed that the minimum wage bill was not included. The minimum wage remains essential policy and we must deliver on this issue,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement.

Omar said the bill as modified by the Senate offered aid to fewer Americans than the package signed by President Donald Trump in December. 

“This is not the promise that we made. This is not why we are given the opportunity to be in the majority in the Senate and have the White House,” Omar said on CNN

Ilhan Omar
Representative Ilhan Omar.

She added: “And so ultimately it is a failure when we compromise ourselves out of delivering on behalf of the American people and keeping our promises.”

Omar and Ocasio-Cortez also retweeted a thread from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, in which the lawmaker questioned whether she could still support the bill when it returned to the House for a vote. 

“It seems there’s never a ceiling for the rich when they want a tax cut. And never a floor for the poor when they need help,” Watson Coleman wrote on Twitter

House leadership scheduled a vote on the Senate bill for Tuesday, with a plan to send it to President Joe Biden before unemployment benefits for millions expire on March 14

 “The House now hopes to have a bipartisan vote on this life-saving legislation and urges Republicans to join us in recognition of the devastating reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis and of the need for decisive action,” Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, said in a statement

In the days before Saturday’s Senate vote, progressives in both chambers had decried the removal of minimum wage increases in the bill. 

Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday made a last-ditch effort to include a $15 minimum wage amendment, which was rejected by his Senate colleagues. Sanders still called the bill “the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country.” 

Eight Democratic senators voted against Sanders’ amendment. 

On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez asked her followers to imagine “having the ganas to go home and ask minimum wage workers to support you after going back on your own documented stance to help crush their biggest chance at a wage hike during their longest drought of wage increases since the law’s very inception.”

She added: “Sin vergüenza,” which translates as “without shame.”

 

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