Why the Biden Agenda Might Come to a Screeching Halt in the Senate

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Posted: Jan 25, 2021 1:50 PM
Why the Biden Agenda Might Come to a Screeching Halt in the Senate

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The 2020 election is over. Joe Biden is president, but down ballot, the Democratic Party didn’t do so hot. The party’s standing in the House shrunk considerably. The Democrats’ House losses were shocking; they were projected to gain 10 or so seats not lose them. There’s very little wiggle room for error. In the Senate, Democrats only have 50 seats. They have the majority because Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, but this is far from the Obama wave that occurred in 2008. Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate. Below those slate of races, the Democratic project of overturning key state legislatures also failed miserably. Overall, besides Biden, Democrats got stuffed.

Now, all eyes are on what the Senate does regarding the rules for this current session. Will they nuke the filibuster? If they do, a lot of left-wing nonsense will pass, especially on gun control and aspects of the Green New Deal. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the wild card, signaling he’s a hard ‘no’ on getting rid of the filibuster or packing the courts. And now, he has company in Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ). Sinema isn’t a hard-core liberal, toeing a more centrist line. She’s also one to beat to her own drum, telling Schumer off on some occasions. Her mindset is simple: she’s there to serve Arizona, not the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (via WaPo):

The Senate filibuster has evolved over the course of its history into a de facto supermajority requirement, necessitating 60 votes to end debate and advance legislation. Rarely has one party held enough votes to defeat filibusters without at least some cross-aisle cooperation.

The rule has been eroded over the past decade. After McConnell led a broad blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominees, Democrats under then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) in 2013 allowed executive appointees and lower-court judges to be advanced with a simple majority vote.

McConnell, in turn, eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees when Democrats threatened to block the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch in 2017 and two years later changed the rules to more quickly confirm presidential nominees.

[…]

The path ahead is likely to be decided by a small group of moderate Democrats, elected from red and purple states, who have signaled support for keeping the filibuster while hinting that their patience for partisan obstruction might not be infinite.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has been the most outspoken Democratic opponent of changing Senate rules and has sought to assemble a bipartisan cadre of centrist senators willing to hammer out deals across the aisle. But other Democrats are similarly resistant. A spokeswoman for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) said the senator is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.”

The Washington Post had to correct their original story which initially said that Sinema might be open to nuking this rule [emphasis mine]:

An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has suggested she might be willing to eliminate the filibuster. A spokeswoman for Sinema said the senator is firmly opposed to doing so and is “not open to changing her mind.”

Well, even if Manchin caves, there’s another brick in the firewall—and it’s made up of Democrats. It would have been better if Republicans were able to win the Georgia runoffs and have the filibuster protected under our folks, but I guess you take what you can get. Also, with the chamber at 50-50, there’s not much of a mandate for this move. I know no one cares, but maybe liberals should consider drafting policy initiatives that won’t—you know—bankrupt the country or trample of Americans’ rights via gun confiscation. Maybe, just maybe—there will be more cooperation.