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Ilhan Omar calls on Democrats to rally against Mitch McConnell: 'Let's grow a backbone'


Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., called out fellow Democrats standing in the way of abolishing the Senate filibuster, implying her party must get tougher to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Omar, a progressive Squad member, said Democrats can't repeat the mistakes of former President Barack Obama's administration by failing to deliver sweeping reforms when they last had full control over Congress and the White House. 

"Democrats can’t repeat the mistake of 2009, we must abolish the filibuster & move legislation that helps us deliver progress for the American people," Omar tweeted Wednesday. "Let’s grow a backbone."

The Minnesota Democrat was replying to a statement made by McConnell in Kentucky on Wednesday where he said in clear terms that his priority is taking down President Biden and Democrats: "100 percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration," McConnell said. 

Biden has come under criticism from Republicans for launching his administration with talk of building bridges but instead deciding to go it alone on his priorities – like a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law that got no GOP support. 

But Omar and other Democrats have blamed the lack of GOP cooperation on political obstruction that McConnell's comments encapsulate. 

"Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on," Omar tweeted in response to McConnell's statement. 

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduces Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S., December 13, 2019.  REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz - RC2PUD9RWMHC

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduces Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S., December 13, 2019.  REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz - RC2PUD9RWMHC (Reuters)

McConnell's statement was reminiscent of his comments in 2010 to the National Journal in advance of Obama's first mid-term elections. "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," McConnell said at the time. 

Biden seemed to brush off McConnell's pledge Wednesday at the White House and tried to strike a conciliatory tone toward McConnell's quest to win back power. 

"Look, he said that in our last administration with Barack -- he was going to stop everything -- and I was able to get a lot done with him," Biden said. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Monday, April 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Monday, April 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Democrats have the slimmest of majorities in the House and the Senate as Republicans are well-positioned to regain some power in Congress in 2022. 

So with the window of opportunity closing, progressives are putting pressure on moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to abolish the legislative filibuster. Doing so would allow Democrats to pass ambitious priorities like voting rights legislation, D.C. statehood and police reform with a simple majority vote. 

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