Herschel Walker can do this country a big service. It would be nice if he could string....
A few coherent sentences together.
Herschel Walker Can Become the Republicans’ Defensive MVP
A 51st Democratic Senate seat would make the party a lot more powerful than an evenly split chamber.
By Heather R. Higgins, WSJ
Nov. 23, 2022 6:54 pm ET
Unlike in 2020, Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff won’t decide whether Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell is majority leader. But it will determine whether Democrats have a true majority. If they do, Vice President Kamala Harris, who has cast 26 tie-breaking votes, will have less to do—but that’s the least important implication.
With an evenly divided Senate, any single Democrat can prevent legislation from passing without Republican support. Even when the holdout eventually gives in, the result may be less extreme, as when West Virginia’s Joe Manchin brought the cost of the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act down to $750 billion, plus another $1.2 trillion for a separate infrastructure piece, from its initial $6 trillion.
A 50-50 Senate also means a single Democrat can prevent a party-line confirmation. Mr. Manchin forced Neera Tanden’s withdrawal as director of the Office of Management and Budget and Sarah Bloom Raskin as a Federal Reserve governor by announcing he’d vote against them. David Weil, the radical academic who would have headed the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, went down to defeat when Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and two other Democrats voted against him.
An even split makes every Democratic senator the deciding vote on every party-line measure that requires a simple majority. That helps provide clarity at re-election time. With 51-49, Mr. Schumer could let two at-risk senators be absent when the chamber votes on bills or confirmations that would be particularly unpopular back home.
And although the Republican House makes this prospect remote, an evenly split Senate is less likely to vote by simple majority to abolish the legislative filibuster. The only holdouts in the current Congress were Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema. If one of them defects in a 51-49 Senate, that’s enough to give Ms. Harris the deciding vote.
The additional senator would also give an edge in committee assignments. That would give Democrats the power to move bills and nominees through committee, where Ms. Harris doesn’t have a tie-breaking vote. Under the parties’ 2021 power-sharing agreement, a tie vote doesn’t block a floor vote, but delays it by requiring the full Senate to approve a discharge motion. With committee majorities, Mr. Schumer could force onto the floor “messaging” bills—appealing legislation that couldn’t pass the House, designed to give the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fodder against GOP incumbents.
Democrats would also have the power to move nominations directly to the floor without Republican support. That would speed the process of filling vacancies in the executive branch and the judiciary. Gigi Sohn’s nomination to serve on the Federal Communications Commission has been stalled for more than a year and awaits a discharge motion after a 14-14 committee vote. Ms. Sohn has suggested she might use the FCC to censor conservative news broadcasters.
A 51-49 majority would give committee Democrats roughly twice the minority Republicans’ allocation of money, office space and staff to draft legislation and prepare investigations and subpoenas. Democrats would control committee time, and Republicans would get half as many witnesses.
An evenly split Senate moves more slowly. Not only do Republicans get more floor time and parliamentary options, but the majority leader moves something to the floor only when all 50 of his members are present. Many times in the past two years Mr. Schumer was unable to proceed because a single Democrat was absent—although the easing of Covid fears will make that less frequent.
Victory in Georgia also improves Republican chances of taking a majority later. This could happen quickly: If a Democratic seat becomes vacant, Republicans would immediately have a 50-49 majority; if a Republican governor appoints a replacement, it would go to 51-49. And the winner on Dec. 6 will serve until 2029, so the race will help determine the chamber’s composition for the next three Congresses. If Republicans win a majority in 2024 or 2026, having a margin will be as valuable to them as it is to Democrats now.
For now, though, we aren’t talking margin. Herschel Walker would be the crucial brake that prevents a run on the judiciary, on subpoenas and investigations, and on a progressive wish list of messaging bills. He was a star running back at the University of Georgia. Now is his chance to be a defensive MVP.
Ms. Higgins is CEO of Independent Women’s Voice.