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Wed Nov 7, 2018, 01:44 AM

Losing ground in the Senate stings but it doesn't reduce Democratic power. [View all]

The Senate was incredibly important to Democrats after Trump became President because all of our hopes to stop the worst abuses of his power lay with that body, where Republicans had a narrow majority and a few "less extreme Republicans" had the power to vote with Democrats and prevent a Trump victory. The obvious example was McCain casting the deciding vote that prevented the repeal of Obamacare. The House was hopeless, Trump could get anything he wanted passed there. There was a shred of hope in the Senate...

But in reality those "less extreme" Republican Senators virtually always fell in line with Trump when the chips were down. Like they did with Kavanaugh. If Democrats lose one to four seats in the Senate this year, when the playing field was sloped heavily against us, it essentially means that Trump can now win votes there by less narrow margins. Democrats still however have enough votes to filibuster so that is unchanged. We risk fewer defections from our caucus now on cloture votes because the Senators who we lost in this election for the most part are the ones who were most likely to break with the majority of Democrats anyway.

But our need to tie up Republican legislation in the Senate just disappeared since we now will control the House. The Senate is no longer the battleground we have to fight on to do so. Nothing can pass through Congress now without the Democratic House signing off on it. Yes a Republican Senate will still do a lot of damage on its own, in particular in regards to the Courts, but no more damage than they were already doing over the last two years. Probably the most significant victory Trump wins by Republicans picking up seats in the Senate during these midterms is that it now becomes even harder to get the two thirds vote of the Senate needed to remove Trump from office should the House impeach him.

Meanwhile the House Republican Freedom Caucus no longer has defacto veto power over what legislation is introduced in the House, the way that it did under Ryan for the last two years. I am saddened and angered by the Senate results, but Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives, in practical terms, dwarfs the significance of any Republican gains in the Senate.

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