Democrat losses in the 2018 election have placed Sen. Kamala Harris’ spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee in jeopardy. Absent some sort of fix, the Democrats will lose one slot on the Committee, and Harris, as the least senior Dem, will be the one to go. (“Spartacus” is next in line, but his slot is safe).
Losing her seat would deny Harris, who almost certainly will run for president beginning next year, many a grandstanding opportunity. As the Washington Post observes, the Committee’s business will likely include a confirmation fight over a new Attorney General and various Mueller-related hearings. Harris’ urge to participate will be irresistible, and she has already let it be known that she wants to remain on the Committee.
The left-wing Democratic base supports her. Brian Fallon, who runs a lefty advocacy group at the forefront of opposing President Trump’s judicial nominees (a futile operation, so far) sniffs that it would “unconscionable” to remove the only African-American female from the Committee. The backlash to that outcome would be “intense,” Fallon warns.
This is the kind of identity politics Democrats seek to inflict on America. The backlash will probably be intense, eventually.
Might Harris keep her seat? It could happen. One possibility would be to expand Committee membership. But this seems unlikely because Majority Leader McConnell would have to agree. Why would he do Harris and her progressive backers a favor, thereby rewarding her behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings?
There are already 21 spots on the Committee, which is probably too many. And McConnell can satisfy Republican members who aspire to the assignment by filling the seats vacated by Sens. Hatch and Flake.
The other, more realistic possibility is manipulation by Democrats. They might agree to greater deficits in memberships on other committees in exchange for keeping the current number of members on Judiciary. Or maybe a current Judiciary Committee member could be persuaded to replace a defeated Democrat on some other committee, for example Finance, from which Sens. Nelson and McCaskill will soon depart.
My view is that Harris won’t suffer if she moves on from the Judiciary Committee. She is already the darling of the left. Whether she parlays that status into the presidential nomination will depend on her performance during the campaign, not on additional grandstanding opportunities in Senate hearings.
In fact, the lack of such opportunities might help her if she obtains the Democratic nomination. Voters outside of her base may find her Committee performances off-putting. She will have more control of how she comes across to the electorate if she’s not part of a high-profile committee on which she is expected to carry water for the left by slandering good people.