With GOP control of the Senate actually looking like it may be in play in November, Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to keep Senate Democrats from being able to campaign against their Republican challengers, even if that means remaining in session all the way through October as he tries to get as many Trump judges confirmed as possible before the music stops.
Traditionally, the Senate hits the road in October of an election year. But the Senate is throwing tradition out the window this year.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to keep the chamber in session for a significant portion of October if not four entire weeks, costing Democrats key campaign trail days and allowing the Senate to continue its work into the fall, according to five Republican officials. The Kentucky Republican wants to keep cranking through as many lifetime judicial nominations and executive nominations as he can with his majority in the balance and the GOP still with the unilateral ability to confirm President Donald Trump’s picks.
Moreover, the Senate GOP has only two members who are considered vulnerable in the election: Ted Cruz of Texas and Dean Heller of Nevada. Democrats, meanwhile, are defending 10 seats total in states that Trump won in 2016, with at least four considered extremely competitive.
The House is expected to head home for the rest of the election season after passing a spending bill later this month. But with the Senate’s unique role confirming the president’s nominees and little political downside to staying in session, McConnell plans to forge ahead into October after slashing the August recess down to little more than two weeks.
“I plan to be here, yeah. Why wouldn’t we be?” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). “You see anything that’s traditional these days? … they don’t need more than a couple of weeks to campaign.”
They may not even get that. I fully expect McConnell to keep the Senate in session through Friday, October 26th, leaving Democrats with at most 11 days to campaign, while their Republican challengers will have had in some cases up to three months to criss-cross the states they are trying to win in.
Of course, the best way to beat the Turtle at his own game is simply not to show up to play. Dems should ditch and tell Turtle to go screw off. Yeah, McConnell plans to confirm dozens of Trump-selected federal judges to lifetime appointments. So the worst-case scenario there is Dems give in to a package deal to quickly confirm the judges en masse only for McConnell to make them stay anyway and take several slow, ugly votes on House GOP packages on abortion, Obamacare, and more GOP tax cuts.
It's not going to be pretty when it happens, so expect it, and don't get suckered in, Dems.