Well the Senate GOP did not rush to prove they were not easy marks for Harry Reid and refused yesterday to restore the filibuster to exactly what it was before Harry Reid broke the rules and made confirmation of judges a 51 vote matter. So the Senate GOP held out for at least a day against its reputation for being the easiest group of legislators to roll in America.
Some Republican lawmakers are indeed pushing for two sets of rules, those that are for Republican presidents which require 60 votes to confirm a judge or justice and those for Democratic presidents which would require 51, and they are doing so out of misplaced hope that Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again. Of course it cannot be. If the Senate GOP “restores” the filibuster without a counterbalancing two years of GOP presidential nominees under the system of 51 votes, it will prove itself a push-over, and also wildly naive about “their colleagues across the aisle.” Enough Republican senators seem to realize this to stop the push to try and pretend that Harry Reid didn’t slap the GOP across the mouth this session with the jam down of the 51 vote rule.
Senator McCain, an advocated of gluing the arms back on to the Venus de Milo, says it is “hypocrisy” not to do so after arguing against the “nuclear option” before Reid detonated it, in a routine display of his genial approach to negotiation with his colleagues that ascribe to them stupidity or moral defect. Of course it isn’t hypocrisy to abandon old arguments when those arguments were defeated and circumstances and rules fundamentally changed. When the “replay” option wasn’t introduced into the NFL, coaches who had opposed it would have been fired if they didn’t use it once it became the rules of the game. Harry Reid rolled the GOP’s arguments against ending the filibuster. It isn’t hypocrisy in the least to say that that act that broke the Senate’s long tradition and itself rendered irrelevant the arguments for keeping it in the first place. Once done, Reid’s move cannot be undone. The precedent of the undoing by ruling from the chair cannot be undone. The GOP needs to impose a penalty and win the presidency and after two years of 51-vote confirmations of judges, then they can talk about a new, unbreakable codification of the old rules.
In another healthy development, it looks like some of the riders in the Cromnibus are worth having, indeed have real merit — a hopeful sign for next year. Too bad the GOP didn’t go with a short term CR for all the agencies and then bristle Appropriations Bills in early 2015 with such necessary bindings on President Obama’s out-of-control bureaucracy. But some wins are better than none, and the idea of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down in February unless the president pulls back his Executive Amnesty is an interesting one, and one I’ll explore on today’s show. A shuttered DHS along with a complete embargo on all Obama nominees not related to Homeland Security –Senator Cruz’s idea– seems to me to be excellent first steps in the upcoming two year wrestling match with a lame duck president.
So the end game isn’t going badly. Not how I’d have designed the last few plays of Obama’s third quarter for my team, but not bad either. If the Senate GOP doesn’t restore the filibuster. That would be a disaster.