As Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said, this may be the first time that a senator has filibustered his own bill. TPM explained the political gymnastics performed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to prove on Thursday that Democrats don’t have the votes to weaken Congress’ authority on the debt limit. Instead they called his bluff, and he ended up filibustering his own bill.
The legislation, modeled on a proposal McConnell offered last year as a “last-choice option” to avert a U.S. debt default, would permit the president to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling unless Congress mustered a two-thirds majority to stop him. President Obama has championed the idea.
McConnell brought up the legislation Thursday morning. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) initially objected, seemingly proving the Republican leader’s point that it cannot pass the Senate. But then Reid ran it by his members and, in the afternoon, agreed to hold that same vote. This time it was McConnell who objected.
“The Republican leader objects to his own idea,” Reid declared on the floor. “So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill.”
If anything sets the example for how dysfunctional Washington is, this is it. Instead of getting things done, there is a continuous display of political gamesmanship. It is even worse than that, almost Kafkaesque in its complications.