WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – “It’s hard on us, but it’s the right thing to do,” declared Republican Senator Much McCoalface, commenting on the recent changes that have lost his party its Senate majority.
McCoalface, until this week, was Majority Chief Tweedle, but presumably will become Minority Chief Tweedle as the Democrats use their new majority to elect their leader, Harvey Pooka, to the Majority post.
But despite McCoalface’s declaration about principle, the sudden change in the Senate appeared to be at least partially accidental.
The change began when the Senate Republican caucus passed a motion designed to pressure the President not to nominate a justice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. The original motion read:
“Resolved: That a President with less than a year of his term remaining should not appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court. Let the American people decide. To this end, we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
But then the amendments started. Several senators said they had other plans for their fortunes and it sounded downright communistic, or even liberal, to threaten to take them without permission, so “our fortunes” was deleted from the motion.
Another senator said that, although not a formal declaration of war, the motion created a state of hostilities with the administration, and it was the norm that the senators, when authorizing hostilities, pledged other people’s lives, not their own, so “our lives” was also deleted.
Several senators then pointed out that in his remaining 11 months, the President could cause a lot of damage in areas besides Supreme Court appointments, so that part of the motion was changed to “should not decide anything of any importance.”
“And why are we calling him the President?” another senator demanded to know. “He hasn’t proved that he isn’t a foreign-born Muslim, and we shouldn’t call him President until he does.” To applause, “President” was changed to “politician.”
Only after the motion had been passed unanimously and released to the media did they realize the full implications. There are 34 senators whose terms expire next January. And it seems that 2010 was a good election year for the Republicans: 24 of those 34 senators are Republicans and only 10 are Democrats. Even if the Democrats agree to be bound by the Republican caucus motion and prevent their short-term members from voting – which is not at all assured – the Republicans are reduced to only 30 voting senators, compared to 34 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the latter.
In a late night emergency meeting, Senate Republican leaders decided to ask the House of Representatives to pass some kind of motion exempting senators from the terms of the Senate caucus decision. But it was too late. Having read the caucus motion, the Republican majority had already adjourned the House until a new Congress meets in January.