When the Senate went into session yesterday, the chamber was split 50/50 on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Democrats spent the entire night and morning exhausting its debate time in an effort to convince the other Republicans to abandon DeVos and hand Donald Trump his first defeat on Cabinet nominations. As of the writing of this post, the talk-a-thon continues in this NBC News live stream … and so does the 50/50 split:
This morning, Sen. Chris Smith (D-CT) admitted that it’s not doing any good — at least in blocking DeVos:
Sen. Chris Murphy said Tuesday it’s “unlikely” that Senate Democrats will muster enough votes to block the nomination of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of the Department of Education.
“I think at this point, it’s unlikely that we’re going to get that 51st vote, but we’re going to try up until the last minute,” Mr. Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
The vote will come today after the requisite 30 hours of debate has expired, or perhaps sooner if Senate Republicans cede their remaining time back to the chair. All that will have been accomplished in this overnight session is to make the vote a little earlier than it might otherwise have been — and to have a marathon demonstration while most everyone else was asleep.
This has echoes of the last time Democrats had an overnight sleepover in the Senate chamber. In 2014, Harry Reid and his leadership all but rented themselves to Tom Steyer in July 2014 to protest a lack of action on climate change from the Republican House and the GOP majority in the Senate. How well did that work out? Less than four months later, Republicans clobbered Democrats in the midterm elections, winning eight seats to take control of the upper chamber. Now they’re blocking the nominee of a newly elected president over the issue of school choice — a very popular policy — because Harry Reid screwed his party out of the filibuster in 2013. Great leadership choices there, eh?
And it’s not quite over yet. Having realized that they’re impotent, Senate Democrats have set phasers on full gadfly, a setting several power levels below stun:
Virtually all Democratic senators are expected to vote against President Trump’s picks to lead the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury and his top budget nominee — a historic rebuke of a first-term president’s Cabinet selections.
Er, it’s not a rebuke unless they can keep them from getting confirmed. This looks more like an historic temper tantrum, one which provides a large contrast between Senate Democrats now and Senate Republicans eight years ago. That’s the real “historic” comparison. And don’t think for a moment that the lessons of this tantrum are lost on voters, even if the tantrums take place when few are awake to watch them.