Did the Senate Just Become Like the House?

Did the Senate Just Become Like the House? November 7, 2014

With Republicans taking control of the Senate, there is much doom and gloom among Democrats. But the Republican leadership and the professionals that run the party surely must be concerned as well because their caucus in the Senate may end up being as fractious and dysfunctional as their caucus in the House.

Think about the difficulties that John Boehner has had trying to hold on to power as the Speaker and remain somewhat tied to political reality while dealing with the far-right Tea Party types in his own caucus. As Sahil Kapur writes, Mitch McConnell may be in for the same thing:

If you thought House Speaker John Boehner has had a miserable time trying to govern, wait until you see what incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to deal with.

The Kentucky Republican achieved his lifelong dream on Tuesday night in a massive victory for his party, and is positioned to move into Sen. Harry Reid’s ornate suite in the Capitol when the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3.

But it is likely to be a short honeymoon.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the influential tea party firebrand, is poised to make life very difficult for the old-school Kentuckian by harnessing the power of the GOP base’s rightward drift to wage fierce battles with President Barack Obama.

Cruz telegraphed his strategy in a post-election interview Tuesday night on Fox News, calling on Republicans to do whatever it takes to repeal Obamacare and and prevent Obama’s upcoming executive actions on immigration.

And yesterday’s election provided a few new potential recruits for Cruz’ army of dissidents, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cory Gardner of Colorado and James Lankford of Oklahoma. Just as in the House, there may be enough Tea Party ideologues among Senate Republicans to hold the rest of the caucus hostage to their demands in many situations. McConnell may hear the words “careful what you wish for” reverberating in his aching head sooner rather than later.

To show you just how disconnected Cruz is from reality:

“The two biggest issues nationwide were, number one, stopping the train wreck that is Obamacare; number two, stopping the president from illegally granting amnesty,” Cruz said.

It always cracks me up how ideologues claim that the American people are on their side on everything. If the repeal of Obamacare was such a huge issue, why did nearly all Republicans stop running against it during this campaign? Because their polling told them it would be a losing issue. Now that the law has provided health insurance for millions and millions of people, repealing it would be a political disaster for those who support doing so. And they know it. In a recent poll, only 39% supported repealing it.

As for immigration, poll after poll shows very strong support for allowing those who are here illegally to stay and have a path to citizenship. In a Pew poll last night, that support was over 70%. The polling consistently shows more than 60% support for it and have for years. Cruz simply denies reality and pretends that a majority of people agree with him, just like he still claims that shutting down the government was popular when the polling shows more than 80% opposition to it.

There’s an old saying that politics is the art of the possible, but for those who see compromise as betrayal or surrender it’s really the art of the delusional.

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  • colnago80

    Cruz is just pandering to his base which consists of teabaggers.

  • reddiaperbaby1942

    We have a travesty of a government, and we are fast becoming a laughing-stock among civilized western nations.

    And yes, I realize that “civilized” is probably not politically correct, but I don’t give a damn. Everyone here knows what I mean.

  • cptdoom

    From what I read, Cruz wouldn’t even voice support for McConnell as leader in the Senate on the night of the election, so there was absolutely no honeymoon for the new Majority Leader. We all know that Cruz is running for President, and has shown no real interest in actually governing, rather than growing his “brand” as a potential candidate, making him perfectly poised to be the spoiler in the upper chamber. The only question is whether McConnell will let the intransigence of the teabaggers damage the country or actually try to find common ground with at least conservative Dems so we have little things like a budget for the government.

    As an aside, it’s rich that the foreign-born son of an undocumented immigrant is railing about amnesty. What does he think the special status of Cuban refugees is?

  • …If you thought House Speaker John Boehner has had a miserable time trying to govern…

    What if I didn’t? There’s a world of difference between “trying to govern” and “trying to prop up the House just enough to keep the doors open”.

  • dingojack

    reddiaperbaby1942 — How long have you been under the delusion that the US was, even vaguely, a ‘civilised country’?



  • reddiaperbaby1942

    Dingojack: well, until Tuesday I was still hoping. Or maybe it’s just expat nostalgia …

  • dingojack

    Sorry forgot to add — 🙂


  • Dave Maier

    The real test is how the leadership deals with TP demands for impeachment proceedings. I got some popcorn ready and waiting for that.

  • scott

    The problem… well, among the problems… is that the R’s have convinced themselves they’re playing defense, protecting all that’s pure and good from the ravening hordes. For someone on defense, there can really be no compromise. On offense, if we want to take that hill over there but only get this one here, at least we got something and can call it a success. But they can’t say the same, either way, they lost and “It could have been worse!” isn’t an inspiring rallying cry.

    I don’t have any great ideas on how to beat that mindset. You either need crushing strength so the defense doesn’t matter, or you need to convince the defenders to defect, that they don’t really want whatever they’re defending any more. What makes that difficult is that these have been defined as identity issues and will be really hard for them to give up.

  • D. C. Sessions

    What does he think the special status of Cuban refugees is?

    His birthright.

  • raven

    because their caucus in the Senate may end up being as fractious and dysfunctional as their caucus in the House.

    Minor problem if that.

    Being a majority means a huge amount. The problems are all but insignificant comparatively.

    For them. For much of the USA including me, it won’t be good.

  • parasiteboy

    I’ve had a view of the two parties over the last 10-15 years that the republicans play to with, regardless of the cost, and the democrats play not to lose. It’s one of the main reasons that I decided to not be a registered member of the democratic party, even though I am more likely than not to vote for a democrat.

    I just moved to Iowa in July, so I’ve had a front row seat to the political ads that flooded the state. Nowhere did I see the democratic candidates touting the successes over the past several years. The Daily Show had a funny segment about how things are better now then when Obama first got into office.

    What I did see was political ads tying the democatic candidates to Obama, Reed, and Pelosi. I did not see any adds from the democrats tying the republican candidate to the obstructionist ways of the republicans, like tea partier Joni Ernst and Ted Cruz, or any republican to McConnell or Boehner.

  • busterggi

    Neither Boehner nor McConnell have shown any ability to lead in th positins they’ve had for years, I expect no changes.

  • chilidog99

    there will be 36 GOP senate sets up for reelection in 2016.

  • lorn

    colnago80 @ #1 Nails it in one.

    The statement is not a declaration of any actual belief. That assumes Cruz has beliefs and not just means to ends. IMO this statement is a declaration of his position, a position selected and prepared to keep him the center of political activity and keep the raging lunatics fired up.

  • abb3w

    The phrase “illegally granting amnesty” begs the question, as there could certainly be an argument that it would be within the ambit of the Presidential Pardon power.