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McConnell calls for negotiations on power-sharing deal to advance

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., salutes Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., salutes Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he's willing to advance negotiations with Democrats on a power-sharing deal of the legislative chamber after two Democratic senators said they would vote to maintain the filibuster.

"Today, two Democratic senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster," the Republican senator from Kentucky said in a statement issued late Monday. "With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent."

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The statement has been widely seen as McConnell, the Senate minority leader, relenting on his demand for the Democrats to maintain the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 senators to agree to end debate before a measure can advance through the Senate.

"We're glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand," Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, said. "We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people."

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The Senate is a 50-50 split between the Democrats and Republicans, giving Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, the deciding vote in the event of a tie and the filibuster could be used to obstruct a measure from getting to the vote in the first place.

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However, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, separately said on Monday that they would not vote to get rid of the filibuster.

"I do not support doing away with the filibuster under any condition," Manchin told reporters in the Capitol. "It's not who I am."

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The demand by McConnell had stalled the process on concluding a power-sharing deal on organizing the chamber.

On Thursday, McConnell told lawmakers from the floor he and Schumer, the Senate majority leader, were working toward an agreement, calling the filibuster "a crucial part of the Senate" and a minority legislation right.

"So, if the talk of unity and common ground is to have meaning and certainly if the rules from 20 years ago are to be our guide, then I cannot imagine the Democratic leader would rather hold up the power-sharing agreement than simply reaffirm that his side won't be breaking this standing rule of the Senate," he said.

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On Monday, Schumer, a senator from New York, told reporters that McConnell will not decide what Senate Democrats will do.

"Mitch McConnell will not dictate to the Senate what we should do and how we should proceed," he said. "McConnell is no longer the majority leader."

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