WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney defended the use of the filibuster on Tuesday, saying it is essential for the Senate to function — a position defended on Tuesday by both the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I thought the filibuster is necessary to allow votes for the input from the American people of what their wishes are,” Romney said in a videotaped statement on CBS’ “This Morning.”
Romney’s comments came as Senate Democrats pressed Tuesday to change the rules governing the Senate. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that Senate Democrats are also debating whether they can change the rules so that it can confirm less high-profile, presidential appointment nominees without the Senate filibuster.
Romney’s statement, however, underscored the importance that he will attach to getting a debt ceiling deal that includes spending cuts and tax reforms. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) concurred in a statement released Tuesday, arguing that the filibuster should remain in place.
“The purpose of the rules is to enable the Senate to function, and to do that, the goal must be to provide as many options as possible to the minority,” McConnell said in a statement to CNN. “If any compromise is to be reached this week, it should be based on our collective best judgment, and I am confident we will find a way forward that provides the Senate with the tools it needs to pass a deal, while empowering the minority to offer any amendment that it thinks is important.”
Romney said he supports Obama’s demand for a one-year reduction in the debt ceiling, adding that Senate Republicans should force the president to meet a lower debt ceiling than he wants, “If that demand was met by the president he would have to live with the consequences, which may include significant expenditures being curtailed.”
Although the White House insists that the supercommittee will get to work without any conditions on their workload, the Senate budget resolution in the lower chamber that passed last month imposes specific criteria on the committee to cut $1.5 trillion in budget expenditures by 2014 — presumably requiring the committee to weigh in on the debt ceiling, social security cuts and revenue increases.
Romney will likely be a key player in any negotiations on the debt ceiling since he has already vowed to “meet the president halfway” on the budget cuts demanded in a prior debt deal.