Graham: Maybe Senate Republicans should walk out to freeze Senate like Texas Dems did

At first blush, this looks like a sauce-for-the-goose response to Senate Democrats’ embarrassing embrace of the Texas fleebaggers. At the same time that Lindsey Graham’s colleagues across the aisle are demanding majority rule and “democracy” in the Senate by eliminating the filibuster and plotting out $3.5 trillion in spending through reconciliation, they’re lionizing their fellow Democrats from Texas for blocking democracy by absconding from their jobs.

If that’s legitimate, Graham told Maria Bartiromo yesterday, then perhaps Senate Republicans should employ the same tactic on any Democratic reconciliation package:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. condemned the Democratic spending package and said during an exclusive interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that, if needed, he will follow the lead of the Texas House Democrats who fled their home state in an effort to kill GOP-backed voting legislation.

“Hell yeah, I would leave,” Graham told host Maria Bartiromo. “I would use everything lawfully in my toolbox to prevent rampant inflation.” …

He subsequently noted that “you’ve got to have a quorum to pass a bill in the Senate” and said he would “leave” if Democrats pass the reconciliation budget resolution and the $3.5 trillion bill is brought to the floor of the Senate.

“To my Republican colleagues, we may learn something from our Democratic friends in Texas when it comes to avoiding a $3.5 trillion tax and spend package: Leave town,” Graham said.

In one sense, this shows the stupidity of Chuck Schumer’s caucus in their knee-jerk support for the Texas Democrats, whose stunt went from stupidity to potential danger by creating a COVID-19 spreader event. Progressives had been demanding an end to the Senate filibuster on the basis of “democracy,” and now have to explain how they can reconcile both positions. After all, fleebagging is simply another form of a filibuster — an exercise by a minority caucus to prevent voting.

But would that work in the US Senate? Reconciliation bypasses filibusters, so relying on a cloture vote won’t stop the bloated infrastructure bill from progressing. Fleebagging might not do it either, though:

Despite Graham’s conviction that he would be willing to skip town to stop the budget package — which he described as “a tax and spend dream of the socialist left” — the plan would probably not work. Senate rules only require 51 members to be present to meet quorum, so if just one Republican showed up at the U.S. Capitol, the strategy would fail.

In other words, either the entire caucus would have to leave town or Democrats would end up with an even easier ride on reconciliation. And at least for a while, the GOP’s absence might make things a little easier up to the point of a vote. The Senate operates on unanimous consent for most of its operations, which allows them to skip tedious parliamentary readings and protocols in order to make the upper chamber more efficient. It takes one Republican to deny unanimous consent, but in this case one Republican would be enough to provide a quorum when it came time to a vote, too. And a lack of opposition to unanimous consent could make it easier for Schumer to change the rules to get around the quorum call before the vote on reconciliation too, although that’s a bit more murky.

The better option for obstruction would be to have Republicans remain in town and withhold unanimous consent across the board to bring the Senate to a standstill. In fact, that would be the more honorable option as well, especially considering that the Senate GOP made use of reconciliation four years ago when they had control of all three electoral levers of power in Washington, passing its tax cuts and coming within a hair of repealing ObamaCare. Staying and fighting make sense, while conceding what little leverage they have makes none at all.

Jazz Shaw Aug 17, 2022 11:01 AM ET