This was Senator Corker today, bemoaning his inability to achieve anything in the US Senate:
Sen. Corker on why GOP colleagues won't vote on his tariff amendment:
"'Gosh, we might poke the bear' is the language I've been hearing… 'The president might get upset with us as senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we're going to do everything we can to block it.'" pic.twitter.com/ebZC8o6RT8
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 12, 2018
This was Senator Flake on Sunday:
Fellow Republicans, this is not who we are. This cannot be our party. https://t.co/xkGMYfoR9w
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 10, 2018
Where I stand on imposing tariffs on our allies https://t.co/MbD0SHqdbC
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 10, 2018
And this was Senator Collins on Sunday:
Many border communities are truly intertwined. Canadian nurses, for example, cross the border every day to work in Maine hospitals. A Madawaska, Maine, mill pumps pulp from the Canadian side of the border to be made into paper on the US side. We must preserve this friendship. 2/2
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 10, 2018
And last week:
Susan COLLINS statement to me: Sessions' action "could ultimately result in higher costs for millions of Americans and undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions"
Says both parties need to work togetherhttps://t.co/42WIZGgjCo pic.twitter.com/ROy65V8VsO
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) June 8, 2018
There is something that Senators Corker, Flake, and Collins could do, today, to force Senate Majority Leader McConnell to actually bring their legislation up for a vote and to force enough of their Republican colleagues in the Senate to vote for cloture so that it can proceed to a simple up and down majority vote: THREATEN TO CAUCUS WITH THE DEMOCRATS! And if Senator McConnell calls their bluff, then: CAUCUS WITH THE DEMOCRATS! If just Senators Flake and Corker, both of whom are retiring at the end of this Congress and are not running for reelection, did this they could force Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s hand. He only has a two senator majority and one of those senators, Senator McCain is out for cancer treatment. Senators Corker and Flake have nothing to lose, as opposed to Senator Collins who is up for reelection in 2020. However, given that Senator King, her colleague from Maine, does just fine electorally as an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, this type of political move would likely not cost her her Senate seat. And if it does, that is the price for doing the right thing, not the expedient thing.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is only going to respond to these types of actions because he really isn’t a politician or like any politician who has ever served as Senate Majority or Minority Leader. Rather than view him as a politician, it is more appropriate to understand Senator McConnell as an insurgent, albeit a non-violent one. He recognizes no legitimacy but his own. When out of power he’ll do whatever is necessary using asymmetric, irregular, and/or unconventional means to achieve power. And once he achieves power he will do whatever he can to achieve his objectives to consolidate his gains as quickly as possible using any means necessary as he believes his actions are self justifying – that his achievement of power justifies his by any means necessary strategy. This is, by the way, the basic argument of the premier Italian fascist (national-syndicalist) theorist Sergio Panunzio, who delineated the fascist theories for the use of political violence and low intensity warfare in the 1920s. As a result, there is no law, rule, tradition, norm, ethic, promise, and/or deal he won’t violate or renege on. This also makes him an unreliable interlocutor and makes it impossible to negotiate with him in good faith as he doesn’t believe in good faith negotiations.
Since Senators Corker, Flake, and Collins, let alone anyone else, cannot negotiate with Senator McConnell in good faith, because Senator McConnell doesn’t do anything in good faith, if they want to get anything done, then they need to rely on their leverage as senators in a very slim Senate majority caucus to force their initiatives through. This means threatening to and/or actually caucusing with the Democrats. The last thing that Senator McConnell wants is to lose control of the Senate. Whether now because of the defections of a pair of his retiring members using it as leverage to achieve their own objectives or in the mid terms because enough voters want a check on the President to override the partisan Republican advantage in this senatorial election cycle. It is why he’s ground everything in the chamber other than handling nominations, specifically judicial nominations, to a halt. It is why he doesn’t want to do the legally required annual budgetary resolution so he can avoid having his members take tough votes before the midterms. And it is why he’s cancelled most of the August recess under the pretense that it is the only way he can move judicial nominees because of what he alleges is Democratic obstruction. Nominations that only exist because he prevented President Obama from seating almost any judicial nominees during his final two years in office. The Democratic minority has no tools to stop these nominations, regardless of what Senator McConnell says because Senator McConnell in conjunction with Senator Grassley has gotten rid of the blue slip rule and refuses to recognize Democratic senators holds on nominees. Senator McConnell’s cancellation of the August recess is really just a thinly veiled attempt to keep incumbent Democratic senators up for reelection off the campaign trail. Every Senate rule, tradition, norm, ethic, and even law (Congressional Budget Act) has been bent or stretched to breaking or just outright ignored by Senator McConnell in his quest to consolidate his power and achieve his revanchist and reactionary objectives. As an insurgent, albeit a non-violent one, Senator McConnell only understands and recognizes the application of leverage and force. Senators Corker, Flake, and Collins have the ability to apply significant leverage and force. The question is whether or not they have the will to do so. The sad reality is the answer is almost certainly not.