And that’s a harsh reality for Upper House Democrats. They can also unilaterally approve President Joe Biden’s lifetime judicial nominees – for a clear majority of 51 seats, confirming them even more quickly than in the previous term.
But they won’t be satisfied with simply turning the Senate floor into a nomination factory after Biden’s unexpectedly productive first two years in office. It just isn’t in their DNA.
“I want to see some action,” said Minnesota Sen. Amy KlobucharA member of the Democratic leadership who chairs the Senate Rules Committee.
With only 50 Senate seats and a narrow House majority in Biden’s first two years in office, Democrats pushed through Covid aid as well as two broad party-line legislation on taxes, health care and energy. That’s on top of bipartisan legislation spending billions on infrastructure, protecting same-sex marriage, tightening gun safety standards and boosting microchip manufacturing.
An agenda even reaching that size in the coming months seems unattainable as House Republicans claw their way through a deadlocked speaker battle. Still Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer Still hopeful, regardless of who leads the House, that lawmakers can “keep the streak going.”
Instead of sweeping changes to election law, DC statehood or the grand plan known as “Build Back Better,” Democrats are discussing minor but still challenging issues to tackle this Congress. Klobuchar mentioned childcare, housing, Big Tech and antitrust, as well as “certain types of immigration” bills.
“I know it sounds impossible in the House, but it’s really necessary,” she said.
Schumer is still keen on marijuana banking legislation, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is eager to drive down drug prices and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) believes there is room for bipartisan agreement on housing and crypto regulation.
They all have to clear the Senate’s 60-vote barrier of a legislative filibuster before House Republicans will even think about considering them. And some Democrats argue that leading the way is the only way to get the House to think in a more bipartisan fashion.
“It’s going to take a different strategy. We’re going to work together here and set an example.” ben cardin (D-MD.).
The last time Democrats found themselves in the position they face now – with the GOP holding the presidency and the Senate majority – was in 2012 following the re-election of President Barack Obama. That Senate took important and risky steps toward bipartisanship, not all of them successful: An attempt at new gun background checks failed, while a bipartisan gaggle of eight senators, including Schumer, helped pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Of.
But the House refused to touch immigration. Eventually, the government shut down as House Republicans and Senate conservatives tried to save Obamacare. Then, Democrats lost the Senate in a brutal 2014 election.
With that lesson learned, Democrats aren’t aiming as high this time. and even though Kevin McCarthy finally manages to seize the speakership in the coming days, it’s hard to imagine a rush of bipartisanship in the first half of this year.
Moderate Sen. joe manchin (DW.Va.) said things would look brighter “if Kevin would stick to his word and … try to work with some of the people who are more liberal. And don’t serve those Those who hold you hostage. In America we always say we don’t pay for hostages.”
“I’ve talked to Kevin before — I think” he’ll work with us, Manchin said. “We’ll see how he gets out of it.”
There is also the question of whether Senate Republicans will even let things go that far. With only 51 seats, Democrats would need at least nine GOP votes in the Senate to pass anything. i.e. Senate Minority Leader mitch mcconnell (R-Q.) who has surprisingly cooperated with Democrats that over the past two years, maintains effective veto power over any legislation moving through the chamber.
Democratic leaders will have to check their ambitions to see what can be done, and possibly once again allow bipartisan gangs to cut deals. Various factions of Republicans have shown interest in Big Tech, marijuana banking and lowering drug prices, especially insulin.
And GOP leaders said Biden may have to join.
“I don’t think anybody would want to just be a judge for two years. I think you want to see if there are some legislative accomplishments that we can keep,” said the Senate Minority Whip. john thun (RSD). “But clearly you’re going to have strong differences in a divided government. So it’s going to require some presidential leadership.”
Then there are the passing spending bills, the debt ceiling and an expiring farm bill to face. In particular, Republicans want to avoid another massive government funding deal crafted behind closed doors, after December’s $1.7 trillion bipartisan bill.
Actually putting appropriations bills on the floor would require both House Republicans and Senate Democrats to prioritize.
“This is where Republicans in the House will make a difference once the leadership is established,” Sen said. joni ernst (R-Iowa).
Of course, that assumes the fractious House can muster together even 218 votes for spending bills after this week’s ugly speaker’s tussle. But a handful of optimistic Democratic senators see the House’s current tussle as a potential catharsis.
Brown said he hoped this week’s disturbances “will free enough Republicans to realize that if they want to get anything done, they have to work across party lines with us.”
“I don’t know that House Republicans want to go back and say: ‘Oh yeah, we did a lot of checking,'” he said.
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