Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Honey Badger's Last Hurrah

Senate minority leader Harry Reid may have one last ace up his sleeve before he retires and heads back to Nevada in the form of procedural maneuvering to force Senate Republicans to vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whose nomination has now been blocked by the GOP for a record-breaking 148 days without a even a hearing.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday left the door open for Democrats to potentially use a procedural tactic to force a vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 
"We have a couple of options, and we're deciding when to do that and if we should do it — when and if," Reid told reporters during a conference call. "I've been in touch with some of my senators during the break to determine that." 
Reid didn't specify how Democrats could bring Garland's nomination to the Senate floor, but said they had some "extreme" options that would ultimately need more than 50 votes to succeed.

"It all boils down to whether you have more than 50 votes. If you don't have more than 50 votes ... most of it is not for anything other than a little drama," he said.

Democrats currently hold 44 seats, in addition to Independent Sens. Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who caucus with them. 
One option could be using a discharge resolution to bypass Republicans on the Senate floor and try to force the nomination out of the Judiciary Committee, where it has been waylaid by Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) refusal to give Garland a hearing. 
Reid's comments come amid a months-long entrenched fight over Garland's nomination after President Obama nominated him in March. 
GOP leadership has pledged to keep the seat open until next year, allowing Obama's successor to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

There are several scenarios that play out here: First, should GOP Senate races start crumbling under the weight of Donald Trump's disastrous campaign, opposition to Garland's nomination could crumble along with it in an effort to split the ticket and "save" GOP control of the Senate. once they come back from Labor Day recess.

Second, the GOP gambles they can keep 51 seats and they lose in November, or that Clinton loses in November, and they lose on both counts.  This is probably just as likely as scenario one in my head, and in both cases opposition crumbles and the Senate GOP accepts Garland.

Third, Reid plays his ace and the pressure during the campaign breaks the GOP.  The rest plays out like in scenarios one and two: opposition to Garland's nomination fails.

Four is where things get interesting: this is where Clinton is elected but the GOP keeps the Senate, barely.  This however imperils a whole different group of GOP senators in 2018, and they probably don't want to deal with this can being kicked down the road.  A lot of moving parts happen here, but I would think Garland would at least get his hearing and a vote.

Five? Five is where Trump wins, and well...all bets are off.  We do not speak of Scenario Five.

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