Even if the Democrats don’t win control of the Senate, there is a way to strip Mitch McConnell of his power for good: priority recognition.
According to Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 of the Constitution, the Vice President is also the President of the Senate. The Majority Leader is not a position that exists anywhere in the Constitution. The reason that the Majority Leader has near-dictatorial powers to control floor votes is because of a tradition that dates back to 1937. The tradition is that the Vice President gives the floor leaders priority recognition. Most notably, this is not a rule in the Senate.
As President of the Senate, Vice President Harris could give any senator priority recognition. That senator could then decide on all legislation that is brought before the entire Senate. Even with a minority in the Senate, Vice President Harris could simply give Chuck Schumer priority recognition. He could decide what is voted on and what isn’t.
This would change everything. Without Mitch McConnell to hide behind, the moderate Republican Senators would be forced to vote down every cabinet member, bill, resolution – everything that Harris would want done. Without McConnell, anything even remotely popular with at least two senators would pass, including getting a cabinet assembled.
I see some debate as to what the Senate rules do and do not permit. I encourage everyone to read this article on the actual written rules and why the Majority Leader is so powerful today. It should be noted, however, that unlike the House of Representatives a large part of the Senate rules is tradition. As Mitch McConnell will gladly tell you, tradition is not written rule.
Also, This wouldn’t be the first time Schumer has done something like this. And yes, while there’s the possibility of rule changes, they cannot change the Constitution. At the end of the day, Madame Vice President Harris is President of the Senate. Period. Not Mitch McConnell.
Most people are concerned with the argument of “if it was that easy to hamstring the Senate Majority Leader, don’t you think Vice President Biden would’ve done it back in 2016. Biden was President of the Senate and Republicans were refusing to bring up the Garland nomination.” Read here to find out why their argument is wrong. YES! VP Harris CAN Really Sideline Moscow Mitch
More on Moscow Mitch:
Mitch McConnell Thinks He Won… (and he’s right)