Just think of what congressional Republicans were considering bringing up in 2018. Some conservative senators were talking about giving Obamacare repeal another go, with a revamped version of the Graham-Cassidy bill they considered in September. That’s got to be off the table now, since there were already at least two hard “no’s” on that particular framework: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, both of whom now have increased leverage for their unique demands on a variety of issues. In the new Senate, two Republican defections will be enough to kill a bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Trump administration have also talked about tackling “welfare reform” next year, which could include a grab-bag of cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, any other program that provides assistance to poor people, and possibly Medicare. Is that something that Senate Republicans will be interested in taking up, in an election year, with only one vote to spare? What other partisan legislation were they considering that, facing a more likely death in the Senate, they’ll now abandon?
Not only is the Republicans’ partisan agenda dealt a near-fatal blow by Jones’ arrival, but the GOP now has its work cut out trying to retain a Senate majority in next year’s elections.