It seemed so simple.
An amendment was offered to the Keystone Pipeline bill by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and James Inhofe (R-OK) that would provide a sense of the Senate that President Obama should not implement his agreement with China to double the U.S. reductions of carbon emissions in exchange for China to begin reducing theirs in 16 years.
Rather than gaining a no-brainer statement on both Congressional Treaty ratification prerogatives, Blunt and Inhofe revealed the hidden truth within the Senate – it is a center-left governing coalition being led by a Republican.
The Blunt Amendment went down to defeat only garnering 51 votes, nine shy of the needed 60, on a common sense attempt to reign in the President’s power of the pen. Two Republicans voted nay, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Susan Collins of Maine, with only one Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin voting in the affirmative with Senators Lee, Graham and Reid not voting.
The difficulty in getting to sixty votes on something as simple as the Blunt amendment should be sobering for anyone harboring hopes that the Senate will be able to “govern” by sending meaningful legislation to the President that limits the size and scope of government.
Instead, an eye opening article in The Hill revealed who Majority Leader McConnell viewed as his go to Democrats to get to 60, assuming he got 54 Republicans on board.
Who are these Democrats which The Hill (note: this author is a contributor to The Hill) declared as “centrists”, the names will shock you, because with two exceptions, they rarely voted against Harry Reid when they held the majority.
The first two are easy: the aforementioned Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp who represent hard red states. The next three are more of a stretch as Virginia’s Mark Warner, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Maine’s Angus King (an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats) rarely have broken across Party lines in the past. But the last name on the list tells an honest observer everything that you need to know about “governing” in this Senate – Virginia’s Tim Kaine.
Yes, the same Tim Kaine who, as Democratic National Committee Chairman was the leading apologist for Obamacare, is now seen as the “centrist” who can make Washington work. In the same article, former Senator John Breaux explains the power of being a must-get vote from across the aisle saying that they, “will control the balance of power in the Senate.”
Kaine has already expressed a willingness to work with Republicans on an Infrastructure bill, which may explain why Senate Republicans have been loudly pitching the idea of increasing gasoline taxes to close the shortfall in the Highway Transportation Trust Fund. A shortfall that is largely due to President Obama’s insistence on forcing Project Labor Agreements (guarantee of higher union scale wages) on federal projects – an insistence that is estimated to increase a projects cost by 17 percent. Hard to see former DNC head Tim Kaine ending the Davis-Bacon Act to meet the budget, so instead we have Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee leading the charge for higher taxes.
That’s “governing” in Washington D.C., where the Republicans win, and the people lose because rather than getting Mitch McConnell running the Senate, we get Tim Kaine dictating terms of the majority’s surrender.
To paraphrase Betty Davis, hold onto your wallets because it is gonna be a bumpy ride.