If Republicans, as expected, take control of the Senate in November, what can they accomplish while Joe Biden is still president?
Hopefully, Republicans will take time out from their busy schedule to investigate Democrats as vigorously as Democrats investigated them, but beyond that, there is the business of government. What can the two sides accomplish in a divided government?
Republicans’ primary goal will be to try and drag the “moderate” Joe Biden as close to the middle as possible.
“If Joe Biden is confronted with a Republican majority in both chambers, I’ve always thought that the onus is really on him. Because it will be a test of just how pragmatic and transactional he can be. … So, I think the test is really on him,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told The Hill.
Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, pointed to energy and “Big Tech” as two areas of potential common interest but said it would “depend largely” on the White House.
“If we were to get the majority back … I think he’s going to have to move to the middle,” Thune told The Hill.
There still wouldn’t be much common ground, considering Biden’s climate change agenda and the Democrats being largely in the hip pocket of big tech. But there are definitely issues that will need attention from Congress no matter who’s in charge.
McConnell has repeatedly declined to delve deeply into what the Senate GOP agenda would be if he finds himself back in the majority next year, though during a recent Axios NewsShapers interview McConnell pointed generally at a handful of issues — inflation, the border, crime and domestic energy production — where there would likely be sharp divisions with the administration.
McConnell and Senate Republicans are similarly refusing to say if a GOP majority would take up a Supreme Court nominee if a vacancy occurs in 2023. Refusing to do so would be a significant escalation of heated judiciary wars.
It would depend on when the Supreme Court vacancy would occur and especially if the vacancy was of a Republican-appointed justice. I don’t think there’s any doubt that if a GOP-appointed justice like Clarence Thomas were to retire, Republicans would do everything in their power to block a Biden nominee from being sworn.
But aside from the obvious cooperation necessary on the budget and probably the debt limit, there really isn’t much room on Capitol Hill for coexistence. So we can expect a lot of posturing, preening, and histrionics instead of actual lawmaking, which will make the Senate as useless as it’s ever been.