The notion that, following last month’s election, the Senate would pass a porked-up omnibus spending bill always struck me as implausible. Yet, apparently it almost happened because Harry “Its’ So Crazy It Just Might Work” Reid identified a few departing Republican Senators who were tempted to go out “appropriating.”
Fortunately, public outrage and the determined efforts of key Republican Senators prevented this from happening. These key Republicans are an odd group: two mavericks — one from the hard right (Sen. DeMint), the other from the center right (Sen. McCain) — and the quintessential insider (Minority Leader McConnell).
Rich Lowry pays tribute:
You had Jim DeMint rallying outside opposition, and pushing Reid’s back against the wall procedurally with the threat to have the whole monstrosity read on the floor; that was time Reid presumably couldn’t afford to waste given everything else he wants to jam through.
Then, you had Mitch McConnell on the phone all day with Republican appropriators – Reid’s base of support on the bill-twisting their arms to come out against it. My understanding is that by the end he had all the appropriators committed against it, with the exception of two who were undecided. McConnell told the appropriators that passing this bill, and passing it this way, would represent a rejection of everything the mid-term election was about, and ultimately he prevailed. Again and again over the last two years, McConnell has done what a minority leader needs to do – keep his troops united.
And, finally, there was McCain. He was out there, too. On “Hannity” last night, he sounded like a tea-partier, urging people to use social media and to flood the phone lines in opposition. It must have been particularly sweet for him, after all these years battling appropriators, doing a victory jig all over the bill on the senate floor a little while ago.