At the Daily Beast today, Mike Tomasky has a comprehensive look at what in politics would change if Republican do succeed in winning control of the Senate this November.
Tomasky notes a number of immediate consequences, including Senate “investigations” of the Obama administration that would match or exceed those running wild in the House the last three years. But the one-word answer to what would change most visibly is undoubtedly “vetoes.”
With Democrats controlling the Senate throughout Obama’s presidency, he’s managed to avoid using the veto pen more than any president since Garfield, who was only in office for 200 days. With a GOP Senate having not just the votes to pass legislation but the power to control the floor, bills that Harry Reid would be able to bottle up or kill will start flying to Obama’s desk. The velocity of these bills will probably depend on the extent to which Republicans decide (a) they need to show “the base” they can pass “true conservative” legislation, and (b) they can benefit from depicting Obama as an obstructionist.
Tomasky also considers the possibility (not much of one) that Republicans will decide they or their 2016 presidential nominee need a record of actual party accomplishment, and decide to get along better with Obama than they have in the past. And he also discusses the more robust possibility that a united congressional GOP could find ways to use the appropriations process to screw up Obamacare or other administration priorities.
Finally, just about everyone Tomasky consulted agreed that a Republican-controlled Senate would be sorely tempted to bottle up any Obama Supreme Court appointments. I’d say that’s the understatement of the year. We’re well past the point where it’s possible for a “compromise” appointment to be made, with precedents like Roe v. Wade and campaign finance decisions hanging in the balance. I doubt that many Democratic-leaning voters can be dragged to the polls this November to maintain the possibility of an Obama Court appointment. But in reality, this could well represent the most important stakes of this midterm election.
UPDATE: In looking back at this post, I feel I may have understated the impact of an expanded Republican “investigative” capacity. You could imagine a giant “Remember Benghazi!” banner hanging in the Rotunda.