United States Senate

Potential Tim Scott U.S. Senate appointment is gaining steam

Tim Scott

Jim DeMint’s abrupt depature from the United States Senate yesterday is opening a door for Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), a member of the 2010 Tea Party class.

While there are other names being floated as a potential replacement, it’s thought that DeMint, who resigned from the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, wants South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to appoint Scott to succeed him:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has made it known in South Carolina that he wants Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to replace him in the Senate, two state Republican sources tell The Hill.

The sources, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, say Scott is DeMint’s preference for the seat, though the final decision will be Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R). She will appoint someone to serve in DeMint’s place after he officially resigns from the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation in January. An election for the seat will then be held in 2014 for the remaining two years of the term.

Haley and Scott have a good relationship, according to sources, though it’s unclear how willing she would be to listen to DeMint, who officially stayed neutral during her gubernatorial primary but quietly supported then-Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) in the race.

A spokesman for DeMint denied that the senator has pushed Scott.

What Filibuster ‘Reform’ Is Really About

Written by Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

As the current Congress wraps up, and in the after-glo of the election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is proposing to limit the ability of senators to filibuster in the next Congress. Of course, we’ve heard the arguments about Republican “obstructionism” and not allowing measures to come to a vote. Having spent seven years as Senate staff, this is all spin. Reid’s attempt to ”reform” the filibuster is about one thing:  limiting the ability of Republicans of offer amendments that Reid doesn’t want Democrats to have to vote on.

First, let’s remember that the objective of every majority leader is to stay majority leader. To do so means members of his party must win re-election. One of the important ways a majority leader can facilitate such is to protect his members from tough votes. For instance, witness Reid’s current attempts to stop a vote on Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment to limit indefinite detention. You’d think that since many liberal voters and groups oppose indefinite detention, Reid would welcome such a vote. But such a vote would put Democrats and President Obama at odds. So Reid’s favored course of action is to avoid such a vote.

Club for Growth warns new NRSC chair to stay out of primaries

Chris Chocola -- Club for Growth

In an editoral published last week at The Kansas City Star, Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, had strong words for Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), when it comes to constested Senate primaries:

In the wake of some missed opportunities to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate over the last few cycles, one tactical change floated by the GOP establishment is that the party apparatus and its affiliated Super PACs should play a more influential role in primaries to make sure that more “electable” candidates are nominated.

It is hard to imagine a bigger mistake.

First, let’s review the Senate races where the Republicans nominated so-called “electable” establishment candidates in 2012: Denny Rehberg in Montana, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Heather Wilson in New Mexico, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin. All were establishment favorites because they were all “electable.” All of them lost.

Second, let’s review the recent history of the Republican establishment’s choices of candidates in high-profile Republican primaries against fiscal conservatives.

The names that come to mind include Dede Scozzafava, Arlen Specter, and Charlie Crist. All were supported by the Republican Party establishment as the most “electable” in their respective races. These stellar “Republican” candidates ended up either endorsing the Democratic candidate in the race or became Democrats themselves.

Senate Democrats short on votes to scale back the filibuster

Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last week that he had plans to have another go at scaling back the filibuster, a procedural tactic used to stall or kill legislation in that chamber. This wasn’t a new threat, Reid has been targeting the filibuster for some time. Back in 2010, when Democrats had a 60-vote majority, Reid threatened to make changes. Senate Republicans made some concessions, scaling back its use and agreeing to do away with “secret holds” on legislation.

But despite the most recent threat, Senate Democrats who want to do away with the filibuster or make substantial changes don’t have the votes, according to The Hill:

Democrats don’t have the 51 votes they need in the Senate to change filibuster rules that could make it harder for the GOP minority to wield power in the upper chamber.

Lawmakers leading the charge acknowledge they remain short, but express optimism they’ll hit their goal.

“I haven’t counted 51 just yet, but we’re working,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of the so-called constitutional or “nuclear” option, in which Senate rules could be changed by a majority vote.
The problem for Udall and other supporters of filibuster reform is that many veteran Democratic senators remember when the filibuster was a useful tool in their years in the minority.

Harry Reid: Senate Democrats will not work with Mitt Romney

Harry Reid

While it looks as though he is unlikely to win tomorrow’s presidential election, Mitt Romney shouldn’t expect cooperation from Senate Democrats should he manage to prove all the pollsters wrong. In a statement issued from his office on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that his caucus will not work at all with Romney to pass his “severely conservative” agenda:

“Mitt Romney’s fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his ‘severely conservative’ agenda is laughable. In fact, Mitt Romney’s Tea Party agenda has already been rejected in the Senate. In the past few months, we have voted down many of the major policies that Mitt Romney has run on, from the Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it, to the Blunt Amendment to deny women access to contraception, to more tax giveaways for millionaires and billionaires, to a draconian spending plan that would gut critical services for seniors and the most vulnerable Americans.

“Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he lacks the courage to stand up to the Tea Party, kowtowing to their demands time and again. There is nothing in Mitt Romney’s record to suggest he would act any differently as president. As governor of Massachusetts, he had a terrible relationship with Democrats, cordoning himself off behind a velvet rope instead of reaching out to build relationships. And in the near-decade that Mitt Romney has spent running for president, both his words and his actions have shown that pleasing the far right is more important to him than working across the aisle.

“Senate Democrats are committed to defending the middle class, and we will do everything in our power to defend them against Mitt Romney’s Tea Party agenda.”

IN Senate: Mourdock trails Donnelly headed into election day


On Friday, we took a look at the battle for control of the United States Senate, noting that Republicans, who once had high-hopes to gain a majority in that chamber, are very likely to fall short at the polls tomorrow. Their struggles to take control of the Senate can really be highlighted by races in Indiana and Missouri, where the Republican nominees have struggled after making controversial comments about abortion and rape.

Todd Akin’s misstep in Missouri, where he is likely to lose to Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was thought to be the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, has been well documented. More recently, however, are Richard Mourdock’s troubles in Indiana.

AZ Senate: McCain, Kyl cut ad for Jeff Flake

Jeff Flake

With the most recent poll out of Arizona showing Jeff Flake with a 6-point lead in the race for United States Senate, Richard Carmona is getting desperate. Carmona recently put out an ad featuring Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl testifying during his confirmation hearing for Surgeon General back in 2002.

Carmona has been under a lot of pressure after some of his dirty laundry was aired publicly, including an late-night incident where he showed up at the home of his superior and angrily beat on her door.

The ad that Carmona ran featuring McCain and Kyl, who he and Flake are running to replace, is meant to imply that he has the support of the two and further tout his “bipartisan” credentials. However, McCain and Kyl are backing Flake in the race, and they’ve cut an ad slamming Carmona, not just for “support[ing] the Obama agenda,” but also because he lacks integrity:

Rand Paul’s maiden speech on the Senate floor

“As long as I sit at Henry Clay’s desk, I will remember his lifelong desire to forge agreement, but I will also keep close to my heart the principled stand of his cousin, Cassius Clay, who refused to forsake the life of any human simply to find agreement.” - Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) gave his maiden speech yesterday on the Senate floor where he explained that he wouldn’t be a “great compromiser” on issues, such as taxes and spending. He explained that compromise in the past, pointing to slavery, has often lead to more problems for the country.

Here’s the video (transcript here):

MT Senate: Tester likely to gain a strong GOP contender

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) could have a tough race on his hands in 2012 as he has largely backed President Barack Obama’s agenda, including ObamaCare. Sensing that vulnerability, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is taking steps to make a bid for against the state’s junior Senator:

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) will announce Saturday he is challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

“It’s happening Saturday,” said a knowledgeable Montana GOP political operative. “He’s running. There is a lot of support and enthusiasm back home, and Denny knows he can win.”

Rehberg’s status as a well-known at-large Congressman immediately pushes the matchup between the two Big Sky State politicians to among the most competitive Senate races in the country. Recent polling conducted for the Rehberg campaign bears that out.

An internal poll is also cited showing Rehberg with a small lead, though Schweitzer’s name being mentioned as a possible candidate seems sort of odd (I haven’t read anything where a Senate run was even discussed):

The Opinion Diagnostics survey of 400 likely Montana voters showed 49 percent backing Rehberg compared with 43 percent for Tester and 8 percent undecided. In a three-way matchup featuring Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer running as an independent, Rehberg led 44 percent to Tester’s 28 percent and Schweitzer’s 18 percent. Eleven percent were undecided.

Both the Rothenberg Political Report and Cook Political Report moved the race to “toss up.” Cook notes:

Senate passes on filibuster reform, eliminates secret holds

The push to reform the filibuster fell flat last week when the United States Senate met for the first time in the new session:

The top Democrat and top Republican in the Senate agreed Thursday to swear off seeking major changes to rules in the chamber in this Congress — and the next one.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced a series of rules changes for the Senate on which he struck an agreement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), among them an agreement to not seek changes to the filibuster or other rules.

“We’ve agreed that I won’t force a majority vote to fundamentally change the Senate … and he won’t in the future,” Reid said in remarks early Thursday afternoon on the Senate floor.
Under that option, Democrats would have sought reforms by using a simple majority vote, reasoning that, on the first formal day of a new session, the Senate can change its own rules with a majority instead of the 67 votes normally needed to change a rule.

But Democrats never seemed able to reach an agreement on the scope or type of changes, and Reid announced a more modest set of changes on which the parties would vote Thursday afternoon.

The Senate did eliminate “secret holds” in a 92 to 4 vote. This tactic allowed members to anonymously block legislation. They could be defeated with 60 votes, like a filibuster. According to USA Today, “Under the agreement on other rules, Republicans said they won’t filibuster as many bills and Democrats agreed to give the minority more opportunity offer amendments.”

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