Most Want Trump Immediately Removed
Noem Says Georgia’s New Senators Are Communists
FBI Looking for Capitol Rioters
U.S. Surpasses 300,000 Daily Coronavirus Cases
Trump Went ‘Ballistic’ After Twitter Ban
Did Capitol Rioters Have Hidden Help?
• Facing Potential Removal, Trump Reads Speech from Teleprompter
• Electoral College Challenge Could Backfire
• Is There a Double Standard on Police Response to Protests?
• Other Fallout from Wednesday's Events
• Trump Is Working on His Pardon List
• Pence Will Attend the Inauguration
• Who Will Run the Senate?
• How Stable Is Control of the Senate?
• Bowser Is Hopeful that D.C. Will Become a State
• Liberals Are Already Pressuring Stephen Breyer to Retire
• Biden Fills the Last Two Cabinet Positions
• A Way to Stimulate the Economy and Bypass Congress
The riots that Donald Trump successfully incited are over, but the consequences are not. A lot of people from both parties are now openly calling for his removal from office before his term ends on Jan. 20. In particular, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has urged Mike Pence (and the cabinet) to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unable to carry out the duties of the presidency. Pelosi also said that if Pence fails to do that, the House might just impeach Trump again. Privately, Pence has told aides he won't do it, so now the ball is in Pelosi's court.
Many Republicans also want Trump out of the White House—now. Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT) said: "Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress." Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) said: "I think there's no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office and if Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, would conduct a peaceful transition of power over the next 13 days until President [Joe] Biden is sworn in." Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) said: "People should pursue whatever they believe will make it possible—through the most expeditious way possible—for the president to step down and for the vice president to assume the powers of the office for the next 14 days so that an orderly transition can take place." Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) also called for Trump to be removed from office. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) said that he would support the use of the 25th Amendment to give Trump a 2-week vacation in Florida. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that Pence should use the 25th Amendment to rid the country of Trump.
Sources have told the Washington Post that senior officials are discussing the 25th Amendment. One source called Trump a "total monster." Another said the situation was "insane" and "beyond the pale." Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said: "I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday." Former AG William Barr said that "orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable." Fortunately for Barr, he played absolutely no role in enabling Trump, and so can pass judgment with a clear conscience.
It should be noted that the 25th Amendment is not exactly a panacea here, because it was not really designed for circumstances like these. It is primarily meant to account for a president who is in a coma, or otherwise physically incapacitated. It is secondarily meant to allow for the VP/Cabinet/Congress to temporarily relieve a president of duty when everyone except the president agrees the presidential cheese has slid off the presidential cracker. The way it is set up, a relieved-of-duty president can challenge the decision of the VP and Cabinet, and the two houses of Congress have to vote within 21 days. If either chamber fails to sustain the VP's decision by a two-thirds vote, the president is immediately restored to power.
Because Trump has fewer than 21 days left in his term, Congress could just table the vote and ride out the clock following the Donald's inevitable challenge. However, if the Senate did not go along, then they could hold the vote, reject the finding of incapacity, and the whole thing falls apart. Put another way, Mike Pence and the cabinet are not the only players here, and there would need to be buy-in from, at very least, current majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who would be the one to table the vote and run out the clock. Undoubtedly, many GOP senators (including, very probably, McConnell) would prefer not to be involved at all, so some of them are surely lobbying Pence behind the scenes not to pursue the option. Of course, if they are successful, then they may get stuck casting a second impeachment vote instead, which is even messier. It's not a fun time to be a Republican senator, is it?
In addition to all the removal talk, resignations are coming as well. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao quit yesterday, citing the traumatic and avoidable riot in the Capitol. She was followed by another cabinet secretary, Betsy DeVos, who resigned effective Friday because of her concern that children saw what happened on Wednesday. Deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews also quit, as did the special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney, who was formerly White House chief of staff and Director of OMB said: "I can't do it. I can't stay." NSA Robert O'Brien is on the verge of leaving, as is his deputy. Other aides are debating whether to resign in protest or stay on for 2 more weeks to help with the transition.
Given that all of these appointees knew who Trump was when they took their jobs, and also that they have tolerated quite a bit of bad behavior from him, it's fair to wonder exactly what their motivation for resigning is. It's certainly possible that Wednesday's events were a bridge too far for some of them and shocked their consciences beyond things like immigrant children in cages, pu**y grabbing, tacit approval of white supremacy, Ukraineyola, and 30,000 lies. On the other hand, they're all going to be looking for their next gig sometime soon, whether that's a job, or a seat on some corporate board, and they may have decided that some distance between them and Trump was necessary. A third possibility, at least for the two cabinet officers, is that they foresee a 25th Amendment decision coming up that they just don't want to be a part of. And a fourth possibility, particular to Chao, is that she's protecting her husband (McConnell) and his image.
There has been a lot of criticism aimed at Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for his incompetence in managing the White House and his willingness to prop up Trump while indulging his false election claims. Aides said that Trump was in a fragile state, surrounded by family and a small group of loyal aides. One noted: "He's got a bunker mentality now, he really does." Some aides urged him to call into Fox News while the rioting was underway, but he refused. Another aide described Trump as so mad at Mike Pence that he "couldn't see straight." He believes Pence betrayed him and stabbed him in the back. In reality, of course, Pence simply did what the Constitution required him to do, no more and no less. One aide put Pence's behavior slightly differently, saying: "One man acted like a toddler, and the other acted like the second-highest-ranking constitutional official in the nation." (V & Z)
After aides pointed out to Donald Trump that he could face criminal charges for inciting a riot, he grudgingly agreed to read a script from a Teleprompter and post the 2½-minute video on Twitter. Here it is:
In the video he speaks calmly and without any of the emotion he expresses when he means what he is saying. The script was undoubtedly written by one of his lawyers with an eye to being used in court as a defense down the road. In contrast to his usual speeches, there were only two major lies in it, namely that he was outraged by the mob attacking the Capitol and that when he saw it happening, he deployed the National Guard. In the speech he admits that there will be a new administration shortly, but he doesn't actually concede and doesn't say that Biden won the election or that he (Trump) lost it.
One of the reasons Trump may have decided to make and post the video is that Michael Sherwin, the U.S. Attorney in D.C., made a statement about investigating the riots. When asked if he was also investigating Trump, Sherwin said: "We're looking at all actors. If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they're going to be charged." That's not: "No."
There is no way of knowing what Trump might do in his remaining days in office, but the events of the past 2 days suggest that he is going to have to take it easy, now that a U.S. attorney might indict him and people are leaving his administration like small mammals on a sinking marine vessel. But in the past, when he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he calmed down for a day or two, but then went back to normal shortly thereafter. Maybe this time will be different. Or maybe not. (V)
The long-term effects of the Wednesday riots are hard to predict, but one real possibility is increased demand to get rid of the Electoral College altogether. If that were done, each governor would transmit the number of votes each candidate got to the Senate Mathematician, who would then fire up a calculator app on her phone, add them up, and announce who got the most votes.
It's not only Democrats who see this possibility down the road. Jon Gilmore, a Republican strategist in Arkansas and adviser to the governor said: "It opens a Pandora's box." Since Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, ditching the Electoral College might mean that the Republican Party in its current form could never win a presidential election again. Needless to say, Republican politicians with presidential ambitions will never voluntarily give up on the Electoral College, but if the voters are so disgusted by what happened on Wednesday that they demand it, it may be increasingly difficult to resist the popular will.
Seven House Republicans figured this out and wrote a letter warning the world about the danger (to Republican presidential hopes). In the letter, they observe:
From a purely partisan perspective, Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the last 32 years. They have therefore depended on the Electoral College for nearly all presidential victories in the last generation. If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election, we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024.
Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney's chief strategist in 2012, said that people like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) "spent their entire life building establishment credentials, and now they find themselves in a political world in which that is a negative, not a positive, so they are attempting desperately to prove that even though I call myself a constitutional lawyer, I'm happy to shred the Constitution." Stevens also noted the rank hypocrisy of Republicans saying they are for federalism and then undercutting the Electoral College.
Polls show that 61% of Americans would like to abolish the Electoral College. The country is gradually moving in that direction. Currently, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has been ratified by 15 states and D.C. with a total of 196 electoral votes. If states with 270 EVs sign up, each of them will be committed to a pledge to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, and the Electoral College will be de facto abolished. States with another 74 EVs are needed to trigger it. If the Democrats manage to take over North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona, that would add another 42 to the mix, so only 32 more would be needed. Pennsylvania and Michigan together have 36. Republicans control the state legislatures in all those states, but stuff changes. For example, one day in the distant future, there could once again be a Deep Southern state with two Democratic senators. Or a bisexual Democratic woman could find herself sitting in Barry Goldwater's seat. (V)
One thing that is increasingly clear to many people is that when unarmed Black Lives Matters activists were conducting peaceful protests around the country in various places, the police reacted with a huge amount of force, often involving helicopters, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, and batons. But when armed Trump supporters illegally broke into the Capitol and damaged federal property on Wednesday, the police did almost nothing to stop them. No helicopters, no tear gas, no rubber bullets, and just a couple of stun grenades. In fact, the po-pos even opened some doors, so that storming the castle (as it were) would be safer. One activist, Chanelle Helm, said: "I don't understand where the 'law and order' is. This is what white supremacy looks like."
For veteran social justice activists, their longstanding suspicions that the police will not tolerate left-wing protests, but are fine with right-wing violence, were confirmed. Gregory McKelvey said that he was one of dozens of people who were tear gassed and beaten by police in Portland last summer when protesting the police killing of George Floyd. The protesters never attempted to get into a federal building, yet were met with people who looked like and were armed like troops. On Wednesday, McKelvey saw cops riding up on bikes. DeRay Mckesson, cofounder of a police reform group, noted that "Black and brown people have been shot and arrested for far less." Mckesson observed that on Wednesday, rioters sat on Nancy Pelosi's desk, but believes that Black people would never even have gotten into the building. They [the police] would have started shooting at them the minute they started to rush at the police. Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump said: "If Black people had done what these white domestic terrorists did today, can you imagine the reaction? They would have been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, arrested, and charged with felonies—or treason."
While some people see the lack of response from the D.C. police and the Capitol police as white supremacy, others see Hanlon's razor (never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity) in action. A lot of people are wondering how the mob forced its way into a building that has its own 2,000-person police department. Videos show the cops standing aside as people shoved their way in. To make it worse, it has been known for weeks that a possibly violent confrontation was going to happen, so the Capitol Police could have prepared for it by fencing off the building and also having a plentiful supply of tear gas, pepper spray, and flash-bangs ready at a moment's notice. The officers were not in riot gear. They also made no attempt to arrest all the people who had forced their way into the building. The incident has caused the Secret Service to reassess security plans for Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
Heads are starting to roll. Nancy Pelosi has fired House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving. She also demanded the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, which was tendered. Soon-to-be-majority-leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he would fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger as soon as he takes command. Mitch McConnell seconded the sentiment, and so Stenger resigned. McConnell also said that the blame lies with unhinged criminals, but also said that Congress would have to address the "shocking failures in the Capitol's security posture and protocols." Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), no one's model of bravery, said that the people who breached the Capitol were domestic terrorists. He said the police should have fired warning shots and if that didn't work, should have used lethal force to stop the mob. (V)
Sir Isaac Newton advised us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Since an attempted coup is a pretty big action, it's no surprise, then, that there was quite a bit of reaction on Thursday. Here's a roundup:
- Foreign leaders, particularly in Europe, are finally
saying out loud
the things they have been thinking about Donald Trump for four years. German chancellor Angela Merkel, for example,
the President for what happened and said she is relieved that "The U.S. will open a new chapter in its democracy in less
than two weeks." UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Trump's behavior as "disgraceful," and he and his fellow
that they are washing their hands of the Donald. French president Emmanuel Macron
Trump's response to the insurrection, and said "What happened today in Washington is not American." Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
on Trump to recognize Joe Biden as president immediately.
- There is apparently a sale on at the Silicon Valley spine store (we believe it's called Backbones 'R' Us). In any
event, after Twitter shut Trump down for 12 hours and warned him he is on (or near) his last chance, Facebook/Instagram
did them one better and
the President indefinitely (and at least until the end of his term). "We believe the risks of allowing the President to
continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a rather
dramatic departure from his previous laissez-faire attitude. Given that the Democrats have Facebook in their crosshairs,
one wonders if he has
done a little math,
and figured out that 51 votes in the Senate is more than 50.
- In the first sign that Josh Hawley has become radioactive, Simon & Schuster
the upcoming book by the Senator that they were set to release on June 22. Hawley said he's going to sue, but
publishers' contracts give them a lot of latitude in these situations, so he's probably out of luck (though he
may be able to keep his advance, if he got one).
- The identity of the woman who was shot and killed by Capitol police has been
She was Ashli Babbitt, a Trump- and QAnon-loving Air Force veteran from San Diego.
- One of the police officers who was wounded on Wednesday has also
He was Brian D. Sicknick, and was apparently wounded by protesters. His death is being treated as a homicide.
- Larry Hogan
that he tried to send Maryland National Guard troops to D.C. fairly early in the insurrection, but that it required
almost two hours to get approval from the White House. Hogan implied that the administration either did not want troops
sent in, or else that things have so broken down at the White House that they were incapable of handling the request. In
any event, it's yet another question that will get a long look in future weeks and months.
- The gaslighting has already begun. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
went on Fox News
and claimed that, aided by facial-recognition software, we now know that Wednesday's attack on the Capitol was the work
of...wait for it...antifa. Reps. Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ) and Mo Brooks (R-AL), among others, are also repeating the claim,
as are the Trump-loving folks on Fox (Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, etc.). Undoubtedly, they will soon "discover" that
George Soros funded the whole thing, while logistical support was provided by the Easter Bunny, the boogeyman, and Elvis
- Speaking of Fox News, they had a
on Wednesday, ratings-wise, finishing behind CNN and MSNBC for the day. CNN, on the other hand, had the best ratings it's
ever gotten, averaging over 8 million viewers in prime time. Was this a fluke, or a reflection of Fox's loss of market share
to OAN and Newsmax? Time will tell.
- The first polls about the insurrection are already in. According to Politico/Morning Consult, 63% of voters (in other words, everyone but the base) think Donald Trump is at least "somewhat" responsible for the riots, and 49% (in other words, all the Democrats) think he's "very" responsible. Meanwhile, YouGov finds that just 2% of Democrats and 21% of Independents support the storming of the Capitol, but Republicans are split almost down the middle, with 45% approving and 43% disapproving. The GOP continues to look like it's headed for an ugly internecine civil war.
Those are the big stories for now; undoubtedly there will be many more in upcoming days. (Z)
Bloomberg News is reporting that Donald Trump is keeping himself busy preparing an extensive list of people he is going to pardon before leaving office, possibly including himself. Under discussion are proactive pardons for people who have not been charged with any crime, including Stephen Miller, John McEntee, and Dan Scavino. Also on the list of potential pardonees are much of Trump's family, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is currently Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend. There hasn't been much jurisprudence about whether people who have not been charged with a crime can be pardoned. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before he was indicted for anything, but no indictment was forthcoming, and the pardon was thus moot. The Supreme Court is likely to get the chance to have its say if Trump's list includes people that the next administration indicts.
Some of the possible pardonees have actually been convicted of crimes. These include Jeanine Pirro's ex, Albert Pirro and Kodak Black. Some other celebrities are also on the list. White House lawyers are reviewing things with an eye to whether issuing a pardon could be seen as obstruction of justice.
The biggie, of course, is a self-pardon. It's never been tried and the Supreme Court has never ruled on it. It is probably not looking forward to doing so, but it might get the chance if the new AG, Merrick Garland, decides to prosecute Trump. (V)
After incurring Donald Trump's wrath by actually doing his job correctly, Mike Pence probably has nothing else to lose right now. So he is probably going to attend Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. In contrast, Trump is unlikely to show up. More likely, he will go to Mar-a-Lago the day before the inauguration and not be in town when Biden takes the oath of office. At one point, Trump was thinking about holding a rally on Jan. 20, but those plans appear to be shelved for the time being.
The exact nature of the inauguration is in flux. The deadly combination of the coronavirus and potential Trump mobs rioting again has forced Biden to plan for a low-key, largely virtual inauguration. One report is that Biden will have some kind of memorial for the 350,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19, but the schedule hasn't been announced yet. (V)
Chuck Schumer will become majority leader of the Senate as soon as the two Georgia runoffs are certified and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in. But the Senate committee chairs have a lot of power. Who will they be? There could be some jostling once Democrats take control, so we can't be sure, but we do know who the current ranking members are, and usually each ranking member becomes the new chair when his or her party becomes the majority party. Here are the current ranking members:
|Agriculture||Debbie Stabenow (MI)|
|Appropriations||Pat Leahy (VT)|
|Armed Services||Jack Reed (RI)|
|Banking||Sherrod Brown (OH)|
|Budget||Bernie Sanders (VT)|
|Commerce||Maria Cantwell (WA)|
|Energy||Joe Manchin (WV)|
|Environment||Tom Carper (DE)|
|Finance||Ron Wyden (OR)|
|Foreign Relations||Bob Menendez (NJ)|
|Health, Education, Labor and Pensions||Patty Murray (WA)|
|Homeland Security||Gary Peters (MI)|
|Indian Affairs||Brian Schatz (HI)|
|Rules||Amy Klobuchar (MN)|
|Small Business||Ben Cardin (MD)|
|Veterans' Affairs||Jon Tester (MT)|
Judiciary is a question mark because Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was recently forced to give up her former position as ranking member. This was because: (1) she gave Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a big hug for ramming Amy Coney Barrett through as a new Supreme Court Justice and (2) she seems to have lost a few of her marbles in recent years.
Also, the last time the Senate was split 50-50, the majority party was kind enough to give the minority party half the chairmanships (as also happened in 1881-82, the first time it was evenly split). However, partisanship is much stronger now than it was then, so Schumer may decide not to do that this time, in which case most of the Democrats listed above will chair their respective committees. (V)
A 50-50 Senate is potentially unstable. One resignation or death (e.g., due to COVID-19) and everything could be upended. Of course, in states where both senators and the governor are from the same party and the governor has the power to appoint a new senator until the next House election, nothing will change if a senator dies. California and Florida are examples of such one-party control. In some states, the party of the previous senator gives the governor a list of three candidates from which he or she must choose. A total of 37 states allow the governor to make an appointment, in one way or another, that is valid until the next regularly scheduled House election.
However, 13 states require a special election to fill the Senate seat. State law determines when the special election must be held, but usually it is 3-6 months from the time of the vacancy. In some cases, if the next election isn't too far off, the special election occurs on Election Day. Some states allow the governor to make an interim appointment until the winner of the special election is certified. In seven states (Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming), the appointee has to come from the same party as the departed senator. Five states (North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) just leave the seat vacant until the special election winner is certified.
Here are the senators, governors, and rules by state. The final two columns indicate whether the governor can appoint someone to the vacant seat (even for a short time) and whether a special election is called.
|State||Senior senator||Junior senator||Governor||Control||Appoint?||Special?|
|Alabama||Richard Shelby (R)||Tommy Tuberville (R)||Kay Ivey (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Alaska||Lisa Murkowski (R)||Dan Sullivan (R)||Mike Dunleavy (R)||Republican||Yes||Yes|
|Arizona||Kyrsten Sinema (D)||Mark Kelly (D)||Doug Ducey (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Arkansas||John Boozman (R)||Tom Cotton (R)||Asa Hutchinson (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|California||Dianne Feinstein (D)||Kamala Harris (D)||Gavin Newsom (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Colorado||Michael Bennet (D)||John Hickenlooper (D)||Jared Polis (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Connecticut||Richard Blumenthal (D)||Chris Murphy (D)||Ned Lamont (D)||Democratic||Yes||Yes|
|Delaware||Tom Carper (D)||Chris Coons (D)||John Carney (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Florida||Marco Rubio (R)||Rick Scott (R)||Ron DeSantis (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Georgia||Raphael Warnock (D)||Jon Ossoff (D)||Brian Kemp (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Hawaii||Brian Schatz (D)||Mazie Hirono (D)||David Ige (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Idaho||Mike Crapo (R)||Jim Risch (R)||Brad Little (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Illinois||Dick Durbin (D)||Tammy Duckworth (D)||J. B. Pritzker (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Indiana||Todd Young (R)||Mike Braun (R)||Eric Holcomb (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Iowa||Chuck Grassley (R)||Joni Ernst (R)||Kim Reynolds (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Kansas||Jerry Moran (R)||Roger Marshall (R)||Laura Kelly (D)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Kentucky||Mitch McConnell (R)||Rand Paul (R)||Andy Beshear (D)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Louisiana||Bill Cassidy (R)||John Neely Kennedy (R)||John Bel Edwards (D)||Mixed||Yes||Yes|
|Maine||Susan Collins (R)||Angus King (I)||Janet Mills (D)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Maryland||Ben Cardin (D)||Chris Van Hollen (D)||Larry Hogan (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren (D)||Ed Markey (D)||Charlie Baker (R)||Mixed||Yes||Yes|
|Michigan||Debbie Stabenow (D)||Gary Peters (D)||Gretchen Whitmer (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Minnesota||Amy Klobuchar (D)||Tina Smith (D)||Tim Walz (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Mississippi||Roger Wicker (R)||Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)||Tate Reeves (R)||Republican||Yes||Yes|
|Missouri||Roy Blunt (R)||Josh Hawley (R)||Mike Parson (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Montana||Jon Tester (D)||Steve Daines (R)||Greg Gianforte (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Nebraska||Deb Fischer (R)||Ben Sasse (R)||Pete Ricketts (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez Masto (D)||Jacky Rosen (D)||Steve Sisolak (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|New Hampshire||Jeanne Shaheen (D)||Maggie Hassan (D)||Chris Sununu (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|New Jersey||Bob Menendez (D)||Cory Booker (D)||Phil Murphy (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|New Mexico||Martin Heinrich (D)||Ben Ray Lujan (D)||Michelle Grisham (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|New York||Chuck Schumer (D)||Kirsten Gillibrand (D)||Andrew Cuomo (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|North Carolina||Richard Burr (R)||Thom Tillis (R)||Roy Cooper (D)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|North Dakota||John Hoeven (R)||Kevin Cramer (R)||Doug Burgum (R)||Republican||No||Yes|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown (D)||Rob Portman (R)||Mike DeWine (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Oklahoma||Jim Inhofe (R)||James Lankford (R)||Kevin Stitt (R)||Republican||No||Yes|
|Oregon||Ron Wyden (D)||Jeff Merkley (D)||Kate Brown (D)||Democratic||No||Yes|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey (D)||Pat Toomey (R)||Tom Wolf (D)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Rhode Island||Jack Reed (D)||Sheldon Whitehouse (D)||Gina Raimondo (D)||Democratic||No||Yes|
|South Carolina||Lindsey Graham (R)||Tim Scott (R)||Henry McMaster (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|South Dakota||John Thune (R)||Mike Rounds (R)||Kristi Noem (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Tennessee||Marsha Blackburn (R)||Bill Hagerty (R)||Bill Lee (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Texas||John Cornyn (R)||Ted Cruz (R)||Greg Abbott (R)||Republican||Yes||Yes|
|Utah||Mike Lee (R)||Mitt Romney (R)||Spence Cox (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
|Vermont||Patrick Leahy (D)||Bernie Sanders (I)||Phil Scott (R)||Mixed||Yes||Yes|
|Virginia||Mark Warner (D)||Tim Kaine (D)||Ralph Northam (D)||Democratic||Yes||No|
|Washington||Patty Murray (D)||Maria Cantwell (D)||Jay Inslee (D)||Democratic||Yes||Yes|
|West Virginia||Joe Manchin (D)||Shelley Moore Capito (R)||Jim Justice (R)||Mixed||Yes||No|
|Wisconsin||Ron Johnson (R)||Tammy Baldwin (D)||Tony Evers (D)||Mixed||No||Yes|
|Wyoming||John Barrasso (R)||Cynthia Lummis (R)||Mark Gordon (R)||Republican||Yes||No|
For the Democrats, the senators who are most vulnerable are Raphael Warnock (GA), Jon Ossoff (GA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Maggie Hassan (NH), Sherrod Brown (OH), and Joe Manchin (WV), because if one of them dies or resigns, the Republican governor gets to appoint a new senator until the next regularly scheduled House election and the governor may pick anyone they want to. The Republicans from a state with a Democratic governor and no special election or other constraints are Jerry Moran (KS), Roger Marshall (KS), Mitch McConnell (KY), Rand Paul (KY), Susan Collins (ME), and Pat Toomey (PA). Of course, if a senator dies and there is a special election, the seat could flip in the election, even if there is an interim appointment. (V)
The Democrats now have 50 seats in the Senate plus the tiebreaker vote. That is not a very workable majority since any Democrat can veto any nomination or bill if they don't get what they want. However, there is a simple way to amp up that majority: Make D.C. a state. That virtually guarantees there will be two more Democratic senators, probably both Black, as D.C. would promptly become both the bluest (91% Democratic) and Blackest (46% Black) state in America.
This possibility has not escaped the attention of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. After it became clear that Democrats were going to win the Georgia Senate races, she said she is hopeful that Democrats will make D.C. a state, which would almost certainly give the Democrats a 52-50 majority in the Senate. She was even hoping this could happen in the first 100 days of the Biden administration.
Adding a new state does not require a constitutional amendment. All it requires is for Congress to pass a couple of laws. Typically the first one is an enabling act, which authorizes the proto-state to draw up a state constitution. Then the inhabitants get to vote on statehood and whether they should adopt the proposed constitution. If they do, then Congress passes another law declaring the proto-state to be an actual state, in which case it can elect senators and representatives.
The process of adding a new state is not privileged. The laws have to go through the same procedures as other laws and are subject to filibuster in the Senate—unless the Senate decides to abolish the filibuster. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is against abolishing it, but we suspect a federally sponsored project to provide every resident and business in West Virginia with a 1-Gbps Internet connection (and all the jobs digging cable trenches and erecting 5G cell towers that would create) might change his mind quickly. Bowser is hoping that Congress is able to jump that hurdle and get the job done. Given how much of a difference it would make to have a 52-50 Senate rather than a 50-50 Senate, this time Democrats might actually get serious about it. And if that succeeds, Puerto Rico, which already functions pretty much as a state, except without senators and representatives, could be next in line. Puerto Rico might be even easier than D.C. because it is an island, so its geographic boundaries are pretty clear. For D.C. there will be arguments over the state's name and whether 18th St. NW belongs to the new state or to the reduced District. (V)
Some Democrats are already urging Associate Justice Stephen Breyer to get while the getting is good. They remember all too well that after Barack Obama's election in 2008, the Democrats held a filibuster-proof majority from July 2009 until Jan. 2010 and many of them pleaded with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire so that Obama could replace her with a younger version of herself. At the time, judicial filibusters were possible, but the Democrats had the votes to break one. Ginsburg steadfastly said that she was perfectly capable of doing her job at 76 and refused to go. In July 2013, Obama had lunch with Ginsburg and obliquely brought up the subject of retirement, but she wasn't interested, in part because she expected Hillary Clinton to be elected president in 2016. As history now records, she held on until the fall of 2020 and died while still on the Supreme Court, allowing Donald Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett, and Mitch McConnell to ram her confirmation through the Senate only a week before an election that Trump would lose.
Breyer is 82 and Democrats will soon have a 51-50 majority in the Senate. Many of them are worried that they could easily lose their majority at any time due to a senator dying of COVID-19 and being replaced either by a Republican governor or a special election. Since the filibuster for judicial nominations has now been abolished, if Breyer were to announce his resignation now, effective as soon as his successor was confirmed, Joe Biden could pick a Black woman—as he said he would—and the Senate would confirm her. If Breyer decides to hang on for a while, he could end up dying while still on the Court and the Democrats might have lost their Senate majority by then.
Even at 82, Breyer seems up to the job, just as Ginsburg was at 76. Still, it is possible he learned his lesson and might just scoot while Biden could get a nomination through the Senate. It isn't that Breyer would have to sit around at home playing solitaire if he retired. He could write a book. He is originally from California, and graduated from Stanford and then Harvard Law School. No doubt both of those institutions would be more than happy to have him on the law faculty and teach a course on constitutional law.
One factor that could play an outsized role here is Biden's promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. It just so happens that Ketanji Brown Jackson (50)—a Black female judge on the U.S. District Court for D.C., who was twice confirmed by the Senate unanimously—once clerked for Breyer. It wouldn't be hard to imagine a deal—implicit, or possibly explicit via intermediaries—that Breyer resigns and Biden names the justice's former clerk to replace him. All that might be needed to seal the deal would be for both Stanford Law School and Harvard Law School to offer Breyer a professorship, giving him the choice of living on the East Coast or West Coast. Although if he chooses to subject himself to Boston winters, as opposed to Palo Alto winters, that's proof that his mental faculties don't belong on the Harvard faculty. (V)
Joe Biden has chosen Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as secretary of labor. Walsh is a former top union official, but he is also an older white guy. The President-elect could have used the position to satisfy calls for a more diverse cabinet, but he didn't, even though there was heavy lobbying for AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs, who is Black. As usual, the deciding factor was the personal connection. Walsh is a personal friend of Biden's and that did it. Unlike Donald Trump, who filled top positions with "friends" who were completely incompetent, Biden is picking people he knows well but only those who are also highly qualified for their new jobs. It didn't hurt that the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees wanted Walsh. The president of the latter, Lee Saunders, said: "Marty is a star." It also helps that Walsh had the firm support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), allowing Biden to say he took progressive concerns into consideration.
Walsh will have his hands full from Day 1 because millions of people are out of work and are looking to the government for help. While he can't create jobs out of thin air, he can certainly enact regulations that will make the workplace safer and more secure, and he can also do things to empower employees.
Biden also picked Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) as secretary of commerce. When Biden interviewed her last year, she impressed him and was considered for a variety of cabinet positions. Raimondo is a former venture capitalist who started her own firm in Rhode Island before being elected governor. She will run a sprawling department whose missions include forecasting the weather, managing fisheries in the ocean, and setting international product standards. She will also inherit a bunch of trade disputes, some of them with China. Oh, and then there is the tricky matter of the census and which noses to count. (V)
With narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress, Joe Biden is going to have to beg, cajole, and wheedle for every vote if he wants a bill to stimulate the economy. However, there is a way for him to provide a huge stimulus without even going to Congress, although it has its own downsides. Student debt totals $1.7 trillion, most of it to the government. The secretary of education is authorized to forgive any portion of it he wants to. All Biden would have to do to inject $1 trillion into the economy is instruct Education Sec. Miguel Cardona to forgive a significant part of the debt. Instead of paying the government, the former students would go out and buy goods or services, helping the businesses that provide them. Congress does not have to approve eliminating the debt, so it could be done extremely quickly.
Biden himself said he was for eliminating up to $10,000 per person. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have pressed for a $50,000 reduction per person.
It wouldn't actually cost the government as much as it appears. Only 40% of borrowers are current on their payments, 8% are delinquent, 18% are in default, and the others are either in school or in forbearance. Eliminating (some of) the debt would simply make the current reality official, and would eliminate a lot of stress for the borrowers.
There are two arguments against wiping out any student debt. First, most of the people who have it have gone to college. People who never made it to college or who paid their loans off already or who had their education paid for, but who have credit card and other debts, will be furious that (former) college students get a break and they don't. This is likely to align with Democrats getting a break and Republicans not getting one. Such a move will only harden the existing political divide. Second, many of the people helped don't need help. If someone borrowed, say, $250,000 to become a lawyer or doctor and is now gradually paying off the debt and doesn't need help, the money isn't very targeted at the people who most need it. A lawyer or doctor who is suddenly freed from paying back a loan might decide to save the money rather than spend it, which wouldn't stimulate the economy at all.
But there are other ways to slice the data. For a person making $25,000 a year, an annual debt payment of $5,000 is a much bigger burden than a $25,000 annual payment for someone making $250,000. Also, Black borrowers tend to have bigger loans than white ones (due to the inability of their parents to contribute as much to their educations), so there is a racial component to consider as well.
In any event, canceling some debt doesn't get at the root cause of the problem, namely, that college is unaffordable for a significant fraction of the population. If Biden wants to do something in this area, such as increasing the size of Pell Grants or making them available to more students, he will need Congress to pass legislation to that effect and that will quickly devolve into class warfare. (V)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan07 Ossoff Wins
Jan07 It's Garland for AG
Jan07 Reader Predictions
Jan06 Georgia on Everyone's Mind
Jan06 Republicans Plot Their Electoral Vote Challenge Strategy
Jan06 Thanks, Lindsey
Jan06 EPA Administrator Creates Roadblock for Biden
Jan06 Bush Will Attend Biden's Inauguration
Jan06 In the Year 2021, Part II: Our Predictions
Jan05 The GOP Is a House Divided
Jan05 Trump May Have Crossed the Line This Time
Jan05 Trump Is the X Factor in Today's Senate Runoffs
Jan05 About Those Pro-Trump Protests...
Jan05 Trump Wasn't Cheated
Jan05 In The Year 2021, Part I: Pundit Predictions
Jan05 Today's Senate Polls
Jan04 Trump Tries to Blackmail Raffensperger
Jan04 2020 Is not 1876
Jan04 Former Secretaries of Defense: The Election Is Over
Jan04 Congress Convenes
Jan04 Trump Calls the Georgia Senate Races "Illegal and Invalid"
Jan04 Warnock Is Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Jan04 The Homes of McConnell and Pelosi Have Been Vandalized
Jan04 Mississippi Has the Largest Percentage of Black Voters, But Is One of the Worst States for Democrats
Jan04 Another Big 2021 Election: Mayor of New York City
Jan04 Today's Senate Polls
Jan03 One Becomes a Dozen
Jan03 Sunday Mailbag
Jan02 Missed It By That Much
Jan02 Missed It By a Mile
Jan02 Saturday Q&A
Jan01 Over 100 Republicans Are Planning on Challenging Biden's Victory
Jan01 Vaccinations Remain Way Behind Schedule
Jan01 The Stock Market Did Great in 2020
Jan01 Could Georgia Be a Split Decision?
Jan01 Democrats Are Targeting Midsize Cities in Georgia
Jan01 Trump's Legacy: A Divide on Trusting the Media
Jan01 Miller-Meeks Will Be Seated Provisionally
Jan01 Goodbye 2020
Dec31 Happy New Year
Dec30 Let the Chess Game Begin...
Dec30 Pelosi Walks a Fine Line
Dec30 Congressman-elect Dies of COVID-19
Dec30 U.S. Way Behind Schedule on Vaccination
Dec30 Pence Distances Himself from Gohmert Lawsuit
Dec30 Vance Brings in the Big Guns
Dec30 Trump Is Finally America's Most Admired Man
Dec30 Newsom Recall Effort Gets $500K from...Someone
Dec30 Today's Senate Polls