Regarding U.S. Senate seats, “It’s obvious that 51 is better than 50,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – New York) said on CNN. A 50/50 Senate “slows everything down,” he told the Associated Press. “So, it makes a big difference to us.”
It should make a big difference to the GOP, too.
Alas, after November 8’s “Red Wave” fizzled, too many Republicans are ho-hum about next Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff. “We’re down 9-3 atop the ninth inning,” the sentiment goes. “If those bums score another run, and we lose 10-3, so what?”
“So what?” Not so.
If Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock wins, Democrats would dominate the Senate, 51-49.
But if GOP challenger Herschel Walker prevails, Democrats and Republicans will split 50/50, with major benefits for conservatives.
A 51-49 Senate means that Schumer can tell Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) to suck moonshine. Democrats could bark orders and laugh at the GOP’s submissive position.
In contrast, 50/50 would force Schumer to respect Republicans. Nothing would happen until Schumer and McConnell renew or renegotiate their current power-sharing agreement.
In 2020, “Using the little leverage he had, McConnell threatened not to finalize a deal until Democrats promised that they wouldn’t try to kill the legislative filibuster that forces a 60-vote threshold,” the AP explained last week.
“It’s always better with 51, because we’re in a situation where you don’t have to have an even makeup of the committees,” President Joe Biden said.
Fifty-fifty would enable united Republicans to strand bills in evenly cleaved committees. Politico’s Burgess Everett observed: “Tied committees mean party-line subpoenas are impossible, nominees can take days to bring to the Senate floor, and just one rogue Democrat can slam on the brakes.”
Concerning federal judges, this is crucial. A tied Judiciary Committee would hamper Biden’s nominees. “If we had 51-49, it would be a much better situation,” said Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D – Illinois). That ratio would speed Biden’s picks onto the courts — for life. On this and other committees, 51/49 yields fatter budgets and staffs to do Democrats’ dirty work.
Fifty-fifty would require Vice President Kamala Harris to hang around to break tied votes, as she has 26 times to date. The talented Mrs. Harris cannot simultaneously be elsewhere and in the Senate chamber. This inconvenient truth hinders Schumer’s agenda.
Fifty-fifty demands every Democrat’s presence to function. Schumer could not excuse senators from votes that would irritate constituents. This would become hazardous given Democrats’ harrowing re-election prospects in 2024.
Rather than skip a tough decision, say, to expand school choice, Sherrod Brown would have to vote Yea and offend the insatiable teachers’ unions or Nay and anger Ohio’s parents and students.
“An even split makes every Democratic senator the deciding vote on every party-line measure that requires a simple majority,” Heather Higgins wrote in November 25’s Wall Street Journal. “That helps provide clarity at re-election time. With 51-49, Mr. Schumer could let two at-risk senators be absent when the chamber votes on bills or confirmations that would be particularly unpopular back home.” In such scenarios, Harris would settle 49-49 deadlocks.
Herschel Walker is the gateway drug to the Joe Manchin veto. Fifty-fifty once again would empower the non-insane West Virginia Democrat to derail his caucus’ zaniest dreams. Fifty-one/forty-nine would let Schumer dismiss Manchin’s concerns rather than accommodate or swallow them.
“There’s probably a bigger difference between 50 and 51 than any other two numbers in this place,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D – Connecticut). “The inability of one senator to hold up an agenda makes a difference, too. Coalitions of one are easy to make in this place; coalitions of two are much more difficult.”
Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema would think twice before supporting Manchin’s objections, as she has before, since Leftist Congressman Ruben Gallego might primary her.
Fifty-fifty means that if any Democrat representing Georgia, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, or West Virginia departed prematurely, a Republican governor’s appointed replacement would secure a 51-seat GOP majority. (The reverse would affect Republicans from Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, or Wisconsin.)
Down the road, Walker — not Warnock — would help Republicans approach or augment a majority through Election 2028.
Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin’s favorite number is 51. Their opponents should walk hard for Herschel through Tuesday and keep Democrats stuck at 50.
Manhattan-based political commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor.