Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and his Republican colleagues are strongly criticizing the majority Senate Democrats for their expected attempt to change Senate rules and prevent the GOP from being able to use the filibuster to block consideration of two voting rights bills.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said what Democrats are contemplating would “break the Senate” and challenged Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to go ahead and put it up for a vote.
Schumer, frustrated by Republican efforts to keep the voting rights legislation from coming to the floor, has promised to hold a vote on amending the filibuster on or before next Monday, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Lankford said Schumer would be doing grave damage to the nation if he is successful in weakening or eliminating the filibuster.
“Schumer’s threat to change the rules of the Senate unless he gets his way is not just a temper tantrum; it is a threat to our Republic,” said Lankford in a statement.
Lankford and Republicans voted to amend the use of the filibuster in 2017, eliminating its use in the consideration of Supreme Court nominees. He said that’s completely different.
“All the conversation about nominations was one thing,” said Lankford in an interview Tuesday. “That had been talked about for a long time, but the legislative filibuster has been something that’s been historic to the Senate for two and a half centuries, and Democratic senators have said over and over and over again this is sacrosanct, this is part of who we are.”
While Democrats complain that Republicans are being obstructionists, intent on blocking their agenda, regardless of the implications, Lankford said Democrats employed this same tactic exhaustively when they were in the minority.
“And they said every time, that’s our right as a minority,” said Lankford. “Now, they are in the majority for less than a year at this point and they’re saying, ‘I’m tired of Republicans blocking the majority, we’re going to do what we want to do, we’re going to change the rules of the Senate.’
"It is very painful to watch the Democrats come in and the first thing they do is to say we’re going to silence the minority in America, half of America no longer counts, no longer has a voice,” said Lankford, “when you used to always have that in Senate.”