Last November, the Senate Democrats used the nuclear option to change the body’s rules to eliminate the filibuster for Executive Branch and most judicial nominees and allow them to cut off debate with a simple majority, rather than the much higher 60-vote threshold. In theory and in practice, that makes it easier to confirm nominees, but it does not make the process any less contentious. Filing cloture means that the Senate must spend much time on debate, but this can be avoided by a unanimous consent agreement (UCA). However, a single Senator can stop any UCA. For instance, last week, Senator John Cornyn objected to a UCA and urged them to rollback the nuclear option. And last year’s nuclear option left the filibuster in place for nominees to the Supreme Court, but many have speculated that it will be done away with sooner or later as well—which would be an epic battle indeed.
The House of Representatives delegation from California will be losing a number of their sitting Members at the end of this Congress, just as it has seen the retirement of several others over the past few years. Why so many exits? Washington Post’s Ben Pershing speculates on a number of reasons including the fact that being a House Member from California does not afford much statewide renown, the high expense of reelection campaigns and, yes, even the long flights back to the district.
Washington, DC, is mired in gridlock, with no end insight. Thus Ambassador David Abshire suggests that elected officials look to the city’s namesake for guidance. George Washington, as President and General, often times did not settle for the easy course but took decisive risks instead, whether it was the Christmas attack on Trenton or the deal between Jefferson and Hamilton that set the country’s early economic policy. Perhaps today’s leaders can act the same way?
One of the standard narratives in DC has been that the Republican Party has been engulfed in a “civil war” between the “Establishment” and the Tea Party. While there is much to be said for this analysis, it should be kept in perspective and reevaluated as necessary. According to Beth Reinhard of National Journal, the conflict “within the GOP looks more like a few scattered skirmishes unlikely to declare a clear victor.”
And for our latest post: Are Most Members of Congress Really Millionaires?