What Say You, Maverick?
Although the GOP had been clinging onto its razor-thin margin in the Senate, last night, that margin slipped to one. Doug Jones, the unlikely Democratic victor in ruby-red Alabama, beat all the odds against an incredibly flawed opponent and carried the state by just around 20,000 votes.
What this means for the future is clear: the Republicans in Congress will have to thread the needle for their proposals with even less room for error than before. What it might portend for the present, though, is less clear.
I say that because the election in Alabama still has to be certified. While the Alabama GOP has conceded the race, the Secretary of State there still must certify the results. He has approximately a month to do so, and by all indications he is likely to take his time in doing it, expecting the process to conclude just before the new year. What it means for the Senate today, though, is that the placeholder from Alabama, Luther Strange, still has a vote.
We should pause, first, for a trip down memory lane. All of the pundits on Twitter and the networks have suggested that this moment of déjà vu is a rerun of 2010. After the passing of Ted Kennedy, the election for his vacant seat in Massachusetts rendered a surprise win for the Republican, Scott Brown. While the Bay State isn’t completely opposed to electing Republicans, especially as governor, it came as a shock at the time.
A certain maverick in the Senate took to the floor for a speech which called for a freeze on the legislation at hand, a certain bill called the Affordable Care Act. In fact, Senator McCain began the push to seat the new Senator as soon as possible. To quote his speech,
So here we are, and now the rumors are that they will jam this proposal through the House of Representatives and then bypass what has always been the normal legislative process. They should not do that. The American people have spoken. The people of Massachusetts have spoken for the rest of America: Stop this process, sit down in open and transparent negotiations, and let's begin from the beginning.
In the interest of consistency, I presume the Senate waits with bated breath to see how the Arizonan reacts to this victory. The tax bill that is making its way through Congress right now is about as unpopular as anything the Republicans have pushed during their year in power. Depending on which poll you might reference, just short of a third approve of the bill. On the other hand, over 50% of respondents voiced disapproval of the bill. It seems clear enough, from this, that the American people do not like it. To borrow again from Mr. McCain, maybe they should "do what has been done in the past, time after time after time, where we sit down and negotiate in good-faith efforts."
Unless logic that was true in 2010 has somehow flipped seven years later, you would expect that he both call for the tax bill to halt and for Jones to be seated posthaste. That is, unless the American people are only worth hearing when they elect Republicans.