Why ‘Republican’ control of the Senate hurts conservatives

· October 27, 2016  
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With the prospects of Republicans winning the White House growing dimmer by the day, everyone is in suspense over who will keep the Senate. The reality is it doesn’t matter which liberal party keeps the Senate. In fact, with the current crop of Republican candidates, it is probably better for conservatives if Democrats win back the upper chamber, assuming Republicans still retain control of the House.

A meaningless Senate majority

Even in a perfect world with a legitimate opposition party, it wouldn’t make much of a difference if Republicans wind up with 51 seats or 49 seats in the Senate. Once they lose the White House, Republicans lack the ability to pass good legislation; once they win the House with a simple majority, they can shut down the entire Democrat domestic policy agenda … if they care to do so. Control of the Senate doesn’t matter much, especially without the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. As for blocking judges, there is no way Republicans could ever preserve anything close to a 51-senator firewall against liberal nominees, even with a conservative leadership structure, given the number of RINOs in the Senate and the number of Republicans who believe in ‘granting the president wide latitude in appointing judges.’

Moreover, the country is already on legislative autopilot — with the most important decisions being made by the executive and judicial branches. Unless GOP leadership commits to reclaiming that power and using the check of purse control, narrow control of the upper chamber is meaningless.

The Worst GOP Senate roster ever

Sadly, the problems with the GOP run much deeper than a few wayward RINOs. The entire leadership structure in both houses, but especially in the Senate, is irremediably broken. There is no way to sugar coat this: the Senate Republican Conference is a dumpster fire and they are running the most pathetic cadre of Senate candidates in our lifetime. There is not a single star among the contested Senate races that will determine control of the Senate, and in fact, almost all of them are Democrat-lite. At least last year when all the conservative challengers lost in the primaries, we still had some decent incoming members in open seats, such as Tom Cotton, R-Ark. (C, 76%). Let’s take a look at the Republicans running in the critical Senate races that will determine control of the chamber — juxtaposed to their CR Liberty Scores:

Richard Burr, R-N.C. (f, 39%)

Mark Kirk, R-Ill. (F, 17%)

Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. (F, 30%)

Pat Toomey, R-Pa. (F, 59%)

Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. (F,56%) 

Todd Young, R-Ind. (F, 52%)

Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (F, 39%)

Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (C, 74%)  

Democrats are making a serious play to flip eight GOP-held seats. As you can see, most of these candidates and incumbent members are not merely F-rated, they are deep into Democrat-rated territory on the critical issues of our time. They are literally Republicans-in-name-only.

For example, Pat Toomey is probably the best of the bunch, yet he has spent much of his time in office promoting gun control, anti-religious liberty transgender legislation, and support of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, asserting that “objective qualifications should matter more than ideology in the judicial confirmation process.” Yes, that is the best Republicans have to offer this year as a check on a potential Hillary presidency.

Then we have a cast of characters that includes the likes of Mark Kirk who supported funding for Planned Parenthood, Richard Burr who opposed his own state party on the transgender agenda, Todd Young who was a Boehner loyalist in the House and voted for anti-religious-liberty/transgender legislation just a few weeks after the Senate primary.

Click on CR’s member profiles of these candidates and you will see how they agree with Democrats on many of the critical issues of our time. On the few issues where they officially disagree, they will do nothing to block Democrats from moving the ball down the field.

Thus, to use a football analogy, we have a party that, when on defense, refuses to make the tackles. When on offense, that party either runs the ball in the other end-zone or prevents the few good players from making winnable plays.

As the defensive linemen for the GOP Senate lineup are not even worth saving, the only real offensive play Republicans are making this year is for Harry Reid’s, D-Nev. (F, 2%) open seat in Nevada. Who is their big star this year? Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev. (F, 40%) with his 40% score who voted to continue Obama’s executive amnesty!

The only conservative running against a sitting Democrat senator is Darryl Glenn in Colorado, but he has gotten no support from GOP Senate leadership. And hell would freeze over before they support Joe Miller against liberal Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska (F, 20%).  

Perforce, the best-case-scenario for conservatives is the reelection of members who downright agree with Democrats on some of the most important issues. Try naming a single Democrat candidate or incumbent who dissents from their party on a single issue. And as we’ve noted before, it’s actually worse for Republicans to control the Senate because they use their control over the floor process to advance Democrat priorities, albeit with the prestige of Republican support. This undermines the leverage of House conservatives more than it would with Chuck Schumer, R-N.Y. (F, 2%) in charge of the Senate. It’s why Republicans have actually performed worse against Obama over the past two years with control of the Senate than they did from 2011-2013 with control of just the House. It’s a difference between having Senate Democrats pitted against House Republicans vs. a scenario with Senate Democrats AND Republicans pitted against House Republicans.

Not only do Republicans have no intention to block Hillary’s third term of Obama’s presidency, they fully plan to codify one of her top priorities: jailbreak. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (D, 66%) another Republican up for reelection (seeking a seventh term!), predicted that after the election there will be enough votes to pass “criminal justice reform.” As I’ve said before, Grassley has been one of the worst chairmen of the Judiciary Committee and his duplicity on jailbreak is breathtaking.  

Unfortunately, House leadership is not much better. They use the luxury of RINOs controlling the upper branch to sit passively while Senate Democrats and Republicans jam House conservatives. That way, Ryan and McCarthy look like the benign players while conservatives focus their anger on Mitch McConnell and co.

That the existing conservative movement is waiting with baited breath to see which group of liberals control the Senate – without taking the initiative to actually chart a new course– demonstrates that we have already lost, not just the election but the next two years of policy battles. When will conservatives learn to stop repeating the same mistakes?


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.