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Thu Nov 17, 2016, 07:32 PM

Crotchety Orrin Hatch puts a big wrinkle in McConnell's potential nuking of the filibuster

Nov 17, 2016 9:47am MST by Joan McCarter

Gleeful Republicans see nothing standing in their way to giving tax cuts to the rich, starving the olds and poors, and a Supreme Court that will put women back in the kitchen, pregnant and barefoot now that they have Donald Trump going to the White House and a lock on Congress. Nothing that is, but Senate Democrats and the filibuster. The way around that is of course the way Democrats did it when Republicans were refusing to allow President Obama's appointments to get to the floor—modifying the Senate rules with 51 votes to end the filibuster on them. So McConnell just has to do that with the 52 votes he now has (or likely will following the Louisiana run-off), right? Or not.

On Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) may have put a dagger in the scheme.
Asked by The Huffington Post about ending the filibuster, he was blunt.

“Are you kidding?” he said with some vehemence. “I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster. It’s the only way to protect the minority, and we’ve been in the minority a lot more than we’ve been in the majority. It’s just a great, great protection for the minority.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the most vehement of the Never Trumpers, agrees, telling reporters on Tuesday that it's "a horrible, terrible idea," and he would oppose it on the floor "in a heartbeat." Where Graham goes, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is pretty likely to follow, so there's a definite two and probably three votes to derail any visions McConnell has of neutering the Democrats.

That's not to say that McCain, a few "moderates" like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Graham, and an appeasement Democrat or two—the best bets are Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Angus King (I-ME)—won't become a "gang" to try to let some of Trump's appointments or legislative proposals get through. The likeliest place we'd see this is in a Supreme Court nomination. There are probably enough endangered red state Democrats looking at their 2018 campaigns to pad those numbers so there will be a Trump Supreme Court.

That said, House Speaker Paul Ryan and McConnell are going to have to do an awful lot of creative legislating to put everything they want into the only legislative vehicle that can't be filibustered—budget reconciliation. That limits them to doing whatever they can in spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit, the parameters for legislation allowed in the process. But you can do a hell of a lot of damage in those three areas.

Daily Kos

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