With the election less than a month away I’d like to take a look at some possible outcomes and what they really mean. Let’s explore.
I’m going to assume that enough of us show up to vote and Hillary Clinton is elected the 45th President of the United States of America. That alone has a major impact. Regardless of what happens in Congress (more about that later) Hillary can veto any bad legislation. She is like the goaltender in hockey; our last line of defense. As President she also gets to appoint (in most cases without Senate approval) the leadership of federal departments and agencies. Perhaps no place is the power of the President clearer than with the federal judiciary. Control of the Senate and by what margin determines how wide-ranging that control is.
If the Democrats pick up a net of five seats they will control the Senate. At a pickup of five it would be 50-50 with Vice President Kaine able to cast the tie-breaking vote effectively giving Clinton control assuming she can keep the Democrats inline. I won’t flat-out guarantee it just yet but I think the Democrats can take the Senate back. That means they will control the committees, the agenda and can get Clinton’s nominees to the floor for a vote. All sub-Supreme Court nominees are not subject to filibuster. That means simple control insures a vote; this is a huge and often underappreciate deal!
In the case of a Supreme Court nominee the filibuster/cloture rule is still in effect. Under the current rule that would mean 60 Senators would have to allow the nominee’s name to come to the floor for a final vote. I do not expect the Democrats to have 60 seats in the next Senate and I don’t know of anyone who is credible making that prediction. Therefore, the Republicans will still have the ability to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. Unless something happens to fill Antonin Scalia’s empty seat during the lame duck session we will have at least one vacancy in the Hillary Clinton administration. With a Democratically controlled Senate there is always the possibility of a rule change (talk about a topic for another day!). It is difficult to imagine the American public tolerating the Republicans leaving the seat open until after the 2020 election and not paying a heavy price at the polls. It won’t be cut and dry but if Democrats keep the White House and take the Senate I believe they will be able to determine the direction of the Supreme Court for some time along with generating a lot of material for me to write about.
I am among the many who do not believe the Democrats can take back the House this time around. Assuming I’m correct and they get Hillary elected along with taking back the Senate they can get a lot of her legislation passed in the Senate and then blame the House for inaction and/or obstruction. It may not get much done but it provides something to run on in 2018 and 2020. (If the Democrats can’t take back the House in a presidential year I certainly don’t see them doing it in a mid-term election unless voting habits change a lot.)
If I’m wrong and the Democrats take back both chambers in addition to electing Hillary the only thing that will stop them is a Senate filibuster. I just don’t see that happening because too many districts are gerrymandered to the point that a Democrat is almost dead on arrival.
There is much more at stake than just the Presidency and your vote is needed up and down the ballot!
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