Cromnibus fallout: GOP leaders pushing Harry Reid’s talking points
They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. Somehow the Republican base always ends up being the bedfellow that gets kicked to the cold winter floor while the Republican leadership enjoys snuggle time with the Democrat-dominated permanent Beltway machine. The embarrassing failure of basic responsibility we call the “cromnibus” provides great examples of how that machine protects its interests, and how little enthusiasm the Republican leadership has for doing battle with it. How did American government degenerate to the point where blind-rush last minute trillion-dollar spending binges are accepted as a new annual tradition?
We’re not even going to pretend the Ruling Class feels some vestigial sense of humility or responsibility toward the taxpayers it milks for cash, are we? They’ll just let everything slide until December of every year, at which point they’ll declare the only way to save the country from an unspeakable fate (i.e. shutting part of the Beltway apparatus down for a while) is an emergency transfusion of gigabucks, spent without the hesitation or contemplation, and anyone who doesn’t go along with this vital life-saving fiscal surgery is an extremist monster who enjoys watching the children of six-figure bureaucrats cry because Mommy and Daddy didn’t get their bonuses this year.
And you’d better believe the trans-party Establishment is going to get even with anyone who threatens to spoil their winter spending festival, especially if they have the unmitigated gall to make the princes of Washington work on a Saturday. Spending that trillion bucks is a drop-dead emergency, you see, but not so much of an emergency that we should expect our lavishly compensated “representatives” to surrender one of their 250 days off. There were congressfolk dragging their children through the Capitol last weekend so they could attend Cromnibusukahmasween. (If you find that all-inclusive name for the new holiday festival unwieldy, maybe we could go with NoThanksTaking.) Can you believe it? They had to bring their kids to work! The indignity of it all!
Thus we find GOP leaders peddling outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s talking points to get even with upstart Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, as chronicled by The Blaze:
The fingerpointing started late Friday, when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) refused to agree to adjourn the Senate for the weekend. Lee was pushing for a vote to defund Obama’s immigration action, along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others.
That forced the Senate to return to work Saturday, and while the two sides were negotiating how to get around GOP objections, Senate Democrats scheduled a series of votes to confirm several of Obama’s nominees, and to set up votes on several others this week.
By Saturday night, some Democrats were crowing that the GOP’s actions gave the Senate the time to confirm more nominees. “Because of Senator Cruz’s actions and Republicans’ inability to stop him, Democrats will end up confirming more nominees by the end of this Congress than we would have been able to otherwise – including several key executive branch nominees and up to 12 of President Obama’s judicial nominees,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson wrote in a Saturday email.
But an earlier email from Jentleson admitted that Reid was always planning to hold these votes. “Senator Reid has been clear for weeks if not months that he plans to hold confirmation votes on a significant number of major nominees before this Congress adjourns,” he wrote.
Reid’s own comments Monday morning indicated that despite the work the Senate was able to do on Saturday, there is still more work to be done and he even threatened more work this coming weekend if it’s needed. Those comments are another sign that Democrats always intended to push the nominations through.
“Everything that’s scheduled now for moving forward, we could finish it today,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday. “But we’re going to have to be here until we finish our work, whether that’s Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday.”
“So everyone should understand, we can’t be leaving,” he added.
The Blaze appropriately credits Cruz spokeswoman Amanda Carpenter with pushing back against this nomination nonsense, spotlighting a couple of the approximately 10,000 Tweets she fired off over the weekend:
Did anyone seriously believe Reid was going to let noms die when there was working time on the clock left? C’mon.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) December 14, 2014
If Harry Reid’s writing the political rhetoric for Republican leaders, and he wrote the non-budgeted spend-a-palooza wish list for 2015, then is it really fair to call him the “outgoing” Senate Majority Leader? I’ll cut Senator Lee a little slack for doing so, since he reminds us of a rather notable event that others in his party seem to have forgotten about, even though they raised a mighty ruckus at the time:
On Sunday, Sen. Lee agreed that the Democratic argument that Republicans helped confirm more Obama nominations makes no sense, since Reid was sure to confirm as many nominations as possible before turning over control of the Senate to Republicans in January.
“Anyone who got through as a result of this would have gotten through anyway,” Lee said on Fox News.
“You’ve got the outgoing majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid,” Lee said. “It would have been political malpractice to not get through his controversial nominees, and we would have gotten through those.”
More than a year ago, Senate Democrats changed the rules over Republican objections that allow the majority party to approve any nomination it wants without any help from the minority, as long as the majority party can find a majority vote. That so-called “nuclear option” means the ability of the Democratic Senate to pass Obama’s nominees depends only on the willingness of Democrats to work through those nominations.
Technically, the Democratic rule change means nominations can be advanced and approved in two simple-majority votes — before the change, a 60-vote majority was needed to advance a nomination, which meant some Republican votes were needed. The change applies to all nominations save those for the Supreme Court.
Under those rules of engagement, Reid didn’t need any extra time allegedly provided by Lee and Cruz doing what the people who voted an epic wave of Republicans into office last month expected them to do. There are hidden agendas at play in much of the cromnibus drama, including an agreement between both nominally partisan wings of the Beltway Party that incoming Republican senators, and newly empowered troublemakers from the previous wave election, should be neutralized with a spending resolution that will leave Reid’s dead hand on the Senate rudder until the presidential race starts heating up – at which time all sorts of plucky conservative reforms will become unthinkable, because those fiery bomb-throwing upstarts need to settle down and avoid making trouble for whoever the donor class has crowned Mr. Electable 2016. But despite all their oh-so-clever backroom maneuvering, Republican shot-callers appear to have truly underestimated how much this embarrassing spectacle is going to hurt their Party brand. The damage is only compounded by using Democrat talking points to take catty swipes at Republicans who still command some respect from conservative voters.
Cromnibusukahmasween 2014 also marked the beginning of some serious internal strife for Democrats, but they’ll do a much better job of containing the fallout. They won’t pump oxygen into narratives that harm the party as a whole. There will be Clinton loyalists looking to kneecap anyone who interferes with Hillary’s regal procession to the coronation, but they won’t employ methods that come off as insulting to loyal, energetic Democrat voters. No matter what happens behind the scenes, they’ll project an image of a party fighting hard for its loyal supporters. Meanwhile, solid Republican voters are left staring at the amazing spectacle of a cromnibus deal that gave them absolutely nothing, negotiated with an opening bid that looked an awful lot like total capitulation, followed by a process in which the party that got creamed in the midterm elections had all the leverage. It doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence for whatever thrilling spring spectacle of hand-to-hand political combat the GOP leadership claims it will spend the rest of the winter training for.