Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Senate Is Moving Close to a Continuing Resolution

As a general rule, there is somewhat less grandstanding in the Senate than in the House, possibly because it is easier for a crazy person to get elected in a deep red House district than in a whole state. In a red district, all he or she has to do is win the Republican primary. Then it's all over but the shoutin'. That doesn't happen in the Senate as much, in part because most states are more diverse than carefully gerrymandered districts and in part because the longer term gives every senator at least 4 years to concentrate on governing rather than starting to work on reelection. Consequently, cooler heads generally prevail in the Senate. Also, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is very conservative, but he is also enough of an institutionalist to want to get the Senate to actually get stuff done once in a while. All Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) cares about is keeping his job.

As a result of all this, the Senate is far along on a bill that would keep the government funded until Nov. 17 while the battle over the budget goes on. It also provides billions for Ukraine. The problem is what happens when it gets to the House (the bill, not Ukraine). If McCarthy brings it up for a vote, it will probably pass because all the Democrats will vote for it and most likely many of the Biden 18 (Republicans in districts Joe Biden won in 2020) will vote for it as well.

The main problem is that McCarthy might not bring the bill up for a floor vote because then Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) would probably introduce a motion to vacate the chair. The Democrats might well join forces with the Freedom Caucus to support that motion, albeit each faction would have different reasons. The Democrats want to show that the Republicans can't govern. The FCers have a slight variant on that. They want to show McCarthy that the Republicans can't govern without them. Small difference, but important.

Still, the Senate bill has some chance since it is a moderately clean bill. It just funds the government at current levels and doesn't contain any poison pills, except it does fund Ukraine for a while. If McCarthy brings it for a vote and it passes, Gaetz has to worry about a scenario in which McCarthy is removed, a new election for speaker is held, and McCarthy wins again on the 15th ballot. Then the Floridian is the one who looks weak and stupid.

If McCarthy refuses to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote, there is a workaround, but it is slow and cumbersome: a discharge petition. If 218 members sign a petition to force a vote on a bill, the Speaker has limited power to block it. A vote based on a discharge petition has to wait for 7 legislative days before it can be held. There is not enough time left for it to succeed, but it could make the shutdown short (and see next item). At this point, anything is possible, but the Senate bill, if it passes, gives some hope. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates