Senate

Mitch McConnell — courageous or shrewd?

Featured image Mitch McConnell’s vote to defeat a GOP filibuster on legislation approving the debt ceiling extension was widely portrayed as a courageous — “taking one for the team,” as Quin Hillyer, among others, put it. McConnell’s vote may have been politically courageous, but more likely it was based on an understanding that it would not hurt his reelection bid. McConnell has a comfortable lead over his Tea Party-style primary opponent Matt »

McConnell’s primary opponent supported TARP

Featured image Matt Bevin, who is challenging Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Republican primary, has made McConnell’s support in 2008 for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) a centerpiece of his insurgent campaign. It’s an understandable move on Bevin’s part. McConnell has a strong conservative voting record. Without the TARP vote, Bevin would be reduced mainly to generic complaints that McConnell is too “establishment.” But now it turns out that Bevin, an »

McConnell: Immigration reform unlikely this year

Featured image The Hill reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t see any way the Democratic-controlled Senate and GOP-led House will agree on immigration reform legislation in 2014. McConnell explained: I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here. The Senate insists on comprehensive [legislation]. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at [it] step by step. I »

Will Oregon be part of the 2014 Senate playing field?

Featured image In my post about Republicans expanding the number of Senate seats in play this year, I did not include Oregon in the potentially expanded playing field. But a savvy reader suggests that Oregon may be in play. The seat in question is held by Sen. Jeff Merkley. Hardly a powerhouse, this first-termer was elected in 2008 by only 3 percentage points and failed to capture 50 percent of the vote. »

Expanding the 2014 Senate playing field

Featured image Republicans need to gain six seats in this year’s election to take the majority in the Senate. In seven states, the Democrats are defending seats that have long looked vulnerable: West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, Louisiana, and North Carolina. But many of these seats look like 50-50 propositions, more or less. Thus, even with 2014 shaping up as a good year for Republicans, the odds of winning six »

How Harry Reid Is Destroying the Senate

Featured image We often hear that Washington is “broken,” that Congress is “gridlocked,” and so on. While such complaints are usually imprecise and sometimes misguided, the sense that Congress is not functioning as intended is correct. Yesterday Senator Jeff Sessions delivered an important speech in which he decried the decline of the Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid. The extent to which the Senate’s traditions have been undermined to the detriment »

Once Again, Democrats Vote to Cut Veterans’ Benefits in Order to Enable Fraud By Illegal Aliens

Featured image Even if, like me, you are beyond being shocked by anything the Democrats do, this is remarkable. For the second time, Harry Reid and his Senate Democrat cohorts have refused to allow an amendment to revise the Ryan-Murray spending deal to be voted on. The amendment would restore the cuts in veterans’ benefits that are part of the deal, and instead raise the money by closing a loophole that makes »

Mark Warner likely to face serious challenge

Featured image Politico reports that Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is likely to jump into the Virginia Senate race later this month. The Senate seat in question is held by Mark Warner, Virginia’s popular former governor. Gillespie is a shrewd guy with no interest in a quixotic bid for office. The fact that he is seriously considering a run tells me that Warner’s hold on the seat isn’t safe. »

Senate primary challenges unlikely to flip seats

Featured image Julie Sobel of the National Journal presents her list of the top five Senators who are vulnerable to primary challenges. If the list is reliable, primary challenges to Senators are unlikely to cause any seats to change from one party to the other. The Senator most vulnerable to a primary is said to be Thad Cochran in Mississippi. It seems highly unlikely that the Republicans, who seem to have a »

A pseudo-moderate flirts with moderation

Featured image Last week, Senator Mark Warner appeared in the “center seat” on Fox News’s “Special Report. I didn’t find Warner particularly impressive. He seemed to talk mostly in circles. Presumably, Warner appeared on the show for the same reason that the more impressive Senator Joe Manchin had appeared a week or so earlier — to brandish his credentials as a moderate Democrat. Warner has belatedly attempted to create such credentials by »

Rothenberg gives Cotton the edge in Arkansas

Featured image Stu Rothenberg has moved the Arkansas Senate race between Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton from “toss-up” to “tilts Republican.” His reasoning is as follows: Currently, we seem to be headed toward a typical midterm election, with unhappy voters regarding Election Day as an opportunity to make a statement about the president. With Obama’s job rating in the upper 30s and low 40s in national polls — and lower »

Murray-Ryan deal heads towards finish line

Featured image The Murray-Ryan budget deal almost surely will pass the Senate, but Republicans are making supporters of the compromise sweat a little: “The struggle is still on in the United States Senate; we will need about eight Republicans to come our way. I feel we’ll have a good, strong showing from the Democratic side. But we need bipartisan support to pass it,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CBS’s “Face »

Obamacare loosens Democrats’ tenuous hold on Senate

Featured image Last July, I noted that Nate Silver thought Republicans would probably end up with 50 or 51 Senate seats after the 2014 election. This, of course, was before the Obamacare rollout generated a surge of ill-will towards Democrats. So where do things stand now?. To my knowledge, Silver isn’t publicly saying. But if his analysis of polls told him in July that Republicans stood on threshold of winning a majority »

Exposing the Democrats’ Lies on the Filibuster

Featured image Liberal apologists have sprung into action to defend Harry Reid’s sudden turnabout on the filibuster. While the details vary, their theme is that the Democrats’ action wasn’t nakedly hypocritical; rather, the Republicans brought it on through unprecedented and unwholesome use of the filibuster. That the claim is nonsense hasn’t deterred liberal commentators like E.J. Dionne. So: sit back and enjoy Ed Whelan’s deconstruction of Dionne’s column. These are excerpts; do »

Filibuster Rope-a-Dope?

Featured image Did the crafty Mitch McConnell just succeed in getting Democrats to damage their long-term interest by nuking the filibuster?  I’ve always defended the filibuster (and still do) as a valid anti-majoritarian device, especially useful for when fitful voters make a mistake as they did in 2008 (with the help of the Justice Department in Alaska and Al Franken’s cheating in Minnesota) and install a large Democratic majority in the Senate. »

Byrd! Thou should’st be living at this hour

Featured image The political debate over the use of the Senate’s filibuster rule to torpedo President Bush’s judicial nominees in 2005 triggered a series of reversals and pratfalls that support the low-comedy version of democratic politics. Among the most notable examples was the profile of former Ku Klux Klan kleagle and civil rights obstructionist Robert Byrd as a cornpone constitutionalist by reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg in — where else? — the New »

Landrieu’s approval rating plummets

Featured image Sen. Mary Landrieu’s approval rating has fallen by 10 percentage points in the last six months, according to poll by Southern Opinion & Media Research. Her rating now stands at 47 percent, dangerous territory for an incumbent. The plunge is attributable, no doubt, to the increasing unpopularity of Obamacare. The poll also tested Landrieu’s strength in a hypothetical three-way race against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy and Tea Party backed Republican »