At the top of Democrats’ wish list was booting out the idiotic, inept, narcissistic Trump and replacing him with the intelligent, experienced and compassionate Joe Biden. With that part of the mission accomplished, we then confronted the loss of seats in the House and slim gains in the Senate.
In spite of the losses, Democrats did retain their majority in the House but the gains in the Senate – Mark Kelly (AZ) and John Hickenlooper (CO) – were not enough to offset our one loss – Doug Collins (AL). As of the first day of the 117th Congress, the numbers in the Senate stand at: 46 Democrats, 2 Independents and 51 Republicans.
Side Note: Kamala Harris is also still in the Senate where she will remain until she chooses to resign. Her successor, Alex Padilla, will be ready to be sworn in the day VP-elect Harris leaves so there will be no change in partisan numbers.
Why 51 Republicans and not 50? Writing for the Bipartisan Policy Center, Michael Thorning explains:
January 3: Even with both Georgia general elections undecided, Loeffler will still occupy the seat she was appointed to and currently holds, advantaging Republicans. Perdue’s term expires with the end of the 116th Congress and that seat becomes temporarily vacant.
The results of the two Georgia runoffs will be crucial to determining which party ultimately keeps or gains the majority in 2021. That’s sounds clear cut but, unfortunately, it may not prove to be straight forward at all, as Thorning notes:
The Georgia runoff is scheduled for January 5. Depending on how quickly the race is decided, the winners could be sworn in as senators as early as that evening…
You can bet if the Republicans both win, this is exactly what will happen. However…
…the winners could be sworn in as senators as early as that evening, but most likely sometime after.
Here’s the kicker:
The Senate is the judge of its own elections. If there are irregularities or the results are challenged, the winners may be delayed in assuming office until those are resolved.
Oh you can just bet that if both Democrats come out in front, someone will challenge the results in order to delay their being seated… for weeks… or months. As we’re all too painfully aware, the Senate GOP cannot be trusted.
This is where the Presidential power to nominate and appoint officials comes in. I offer for your consideration this scenario: President Joe Biden offers attractive positions to two GOP Senators.
Of course they’d have to be chosen very thoughtfully. The first priority would be:
Senators must come from states where the Governor appoints their replacement
In 37 states, vacancies are temporarily filled by gubernatorial appointment.In the remaining 13 states, a special election is required within a certain time frame to fill the vacancy. Of those 13 states, eight allow for an interim gubernatorial appointment.
That narrows the list down from the current 51 to 46 Senators.
Senators must come from states with Democratic Governors
That filters out another 36 and brings the list down to 10.
Side Note: Ron Johnson comes from Wisconsin which has a Democratic Governor. However, Wisconsin is one of the 5 states which do not allow gubernatorial appointments.
Governors must not be restricted to appointing persons who must belong to the same political party as the incumbent who vacated the Senate seat
That brings it down to 8:
Delete from list those unlikely to accept an appointment from President Biden
So we can ditch Mitch and Rand Paul, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Roger Marshall, who is one of the autocratic coalition, can go too, and Jerry Moran since he was one of those who spent July 4th in Moscow a couple of years ago.
That narrows the field to two: Susan Collins and Pat Toomey.
Toomey has announced his intention to retire at the end of his current term so he might quite like to finish it with a couple years in the embassy of a small country that enjoys a pleasant climate. Put him somewhere like Monaco where he can’t do too much damage.
Susan Collins is more of a challenge. The trick to choosing her appointment would be to actually choose a department, service or agency where Mainers want to be represented. US Fisheries and Wildlife Service should appeal to them, especially if the position concerned fisheries as fishing is very important to the state. Agriculture is another possibility, and manufacturing. I’m not advocating for her to be given a top line position, just a deputy role in an area where Mainers would love to have influence so they’d put pressure on her to take it.
The President has the power to fill 1564 positions, 1212 of which require Senate confirmation (the other 352 are mostly White House positions). Ah but, I hear you think, if McConnell still has his bony grip on the majority, he’s not going to allow one, let alone two, of his Senators to be confirmed, is he.
You’re right, he isn’t. However, look what the Partnership for Public Service turned up in their research (bold and italics mine):
[Yada yada]…the president nominates… the Senate provides “advice and consent.” But in recent years, presidents have found it increasingly easy to sidestep this process altogether and to install temporary, “acting” officials in place of Senate-confirmed leaders.
The Brookings Institute has also been researching this.
Findings released in a new report, “The Replacements: Why and How “Acting” Officials are Making Senate Confirmation Obsolete,” reveal the Senate’s weakness as a check on the president’s appointment power. In short, the sheer number of federal vacancies in combination with a slew of “acting” officials in key positions have sidelined the Senate
Acting appointments are limited to a duration of 210 days but that’s plenty of time for Wolf and Mills to appoint Dem replacements. Then the Senate will have a Dem majority and confirmations for all Biden’s appointments — plus all House Bills — can go ahead! Bye bye McConnell obstruction; hello Dem progress!