On Tuesday, the Senate seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions went blue. Point zero two seconds later, Schumer and company were out demanding to know what’s taking so long to seat him. Why?
Taxes. Well, that and general political jackassery. But yes, taxes too.
The tax bill still has to go through one more hurdle. The Senate and the House have to reconcile their two bills into one, and then vote, so the President can sign it. And that presents a problem for Senator Corker. Or, rather, for everyone who is not Senator Corker.
Corker was the only Republican in the Senate who did not vote to approve their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. At the time, the ratio of Republicans to Dems/Ind in the Senate was 52-48.
Once Doug Jones is seated, obviously, that will be 51-49. Which means if Corker voted the same it would be 50-50, and Vice President Pence would have to cast the tie-breaking vote. Now, we can expect that Mitch will hold the line and that this vote happens right away and without delay. I expect that. We can count on the vote going through before Jones is seated. I’m counting on that.
But backup plans are the best thing ever. The tax bill going through on a 50-50 margin, with a tie-breaker from the Vice President, and bipartisan opposition … not a good look. Especially in 2018 campaign ads. A better look? A majority win. No tie-breaker. Only Democrats and Independents in opposition.
So Bob Corker needs to come out for the bill right now. If he does, the margin for passing the bill in the Senate will be unchanged, even if Jones does take his seat. Corker switching his vote would mean 52 “yea” votes or 51. Fifty-one was the magic number last time. Either is fine.
Now, look, Chuck Schumer is just playing the game here. As I said about 15 minutes ago:
It’s is some pretty basic politicking. This press conference is practically rote. The point is to just say that they did it. To just say later that Republicans “rushed” it through without waiting for the duly elected representative of the blah blah blah. It’s obviously nonsense. Doug Jones has no mandate other than not being a guy who dates children and loves slavery. Certainly no mandate to go stop a tax cut.
So this is all part of the dance. But I think I’ve seen enough of 2016 and 2017 to know not to take anything for granted. The GOP, for once in their lives, ought to get all their ducks in a row.
Don’t let’s wait. Senator Corker needs to get on board for this thing to pass, and this thing needs to pass. If it doesn’t, the party can officially kiss the majority goodbye in 2018, because they’ll have proved they can’t do anything with it anyway.