The lame duck threat is real, notwithstanding political posturing from Democratic Congressional Campaign chief Chris Van Hollen and others. In fact, Harry Reid has already set the schedule for the lame-duck session: it starts November 15, breaks for a week for Thanksgiving, and reconvenes in December. Perhaps running right up to Christmas Eve, in a frightening replay of last year’s health care disaster.
We know how extreme the agenda will be, because Senate Democrats have been telling us: Sen. John Kerry told Bloomberg News that after the election, members of the Senate — especially, of course, the losers — will feel “free and liberated” to pass cap and trade. Sen. Tom Harkin has similarly promised to revive card check, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad expects “one of the most significant lame-duck sessions in the history of the United States.”
Last week the House of Representatives confirmed they fully intend to go along with Harry Reid’s plan to force a slate of far-left legislation on the country in a lame-duck session, when Rep. Tom Price forced a vote on the issue. Only six Democrats voted against allowing major policy changes in a lame-duck session.
Fortunately, there are three key strategies that can stop the lame-duck threat: convincing moderate Republicans to vote no on any major policy changes in a lame-duck session; educating voters in the key special election states whose new senators will be seated for the lame-duck session; and pressuring key Democratic senators, mostly those up for re-election in 2012, who will still be susceptible to public pressure in the lame-duck session.
The first strategy could be the most important: convincing moderate Republicans to filibuster any major policy change in a lame-duck session. Quite simply, even if Harry Reid can convince every single Democrat to get on board a sweeping lame-duck agenda, he can’t get to 60 votes without Republicans.
Moderate Republicans, however, pride themselves on respecting the process and being deliberate and thoughtful. The idea of jamming massive policy changes through in a matter of weeks, over the holiday season, relying on the votes of senators who have already lost election, and without hearing or proper committee consideration should be easy for them to oppose.