News & Politics

Why Does a GOP Congress Matter?

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With the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare, a common and consistent complaint among conservative talk radio, blogs and some social media-obsessed activists is that the GOP Senate is failing President Trump.

These complainers say that somehow senators from different states, with different cultures, backgrounds, and constituents,  are not independent minded, but beholden to the swamp and unwilling to do the work of the American people.

While I am disappointed with the legislative pace, the failure of Obamacare repeal, et cetera, I like to keep both my feet on planet earth and realize things are being done – much more than these naysayers recognize.

Let me give one example that gets little recognition and would be impossible without a Republican president and a Senate Republican majority: the appointment and confirmation of federal judges.

While some activists continually bemoan the Republican Senate majority on whatever issue tickles their fancy that day, they miss things like this little tid-bit in the Wall Street Journal on October 6, 2017: “Party-Line Vote Approves 3 Trump Picks.”  What was the party-line vote?

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send Pres. Trump’s two appeals court nominees – University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett for a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen for a seat on the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati – to the full Senate for confirmation.  Both female judges are vehemently opposed by Senate Democrats and liberal special interest groups.  Ms. Barrett has even been attacked for her Catholicism – sadly moving a line in the sand to where progressives now have no problem attacking religious beliefs.

Who was on that 11-9 party line vote?  Oh yeah, it included supposed RINOs like Sen. Graham (R-SC), Sen. Flake (R-AZ), and Sen. Sasse (R-NE).  Yes, the same Ben Sasse who has caused Sean Hannity apparently sleepless nights because he wants to protect freedom of the press – the same freedom Mr. Sasse would fight tooth and nail on behalf of Mr. Hannity.  Does anyone think Democrats would not shut Hannity down in a heartbeat if they could?  To naysayers, facts and principles can sometimes be inconvenient.

Let’s remember: getting the right judges appointed matters – and it matters a lot!  Lest anyone forget, it was Chief Justice Roberts who wrote the decision upholding Obamacare.  As Kimberley Strassel wrote yesterday, “Mr. Trump has now nominated nearly 60 judges, filling more vacancies than Barack Obama did in his entire first year. There are another 160 court openings, allowing Mr. Trump to flip or further consolidate conservative majorities on the circuit courts that have the final say on 99% of federal legal disputes.”

By the way, why are there 160 (that’s a huge number) court openings?  Ask Sen. McConnell and his Republican Senate colleagues.

Do any of the GOP-Senate-Is-Worthless-Crowd naysayers think this happens without a Republican Senate majority?  Does anyone think we have a Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch without Mitch McConnell? If you do, you are delusional.

As Ms. Strassel further pointed out: “Senate Republicans have so far blown their major agenda items, but they’ve remained unified on judges. They agreed to kill the Senate filibuster for Supreme Court nominees so as to confirm Justice Gorsuch; have confirmed six other judicial nominees; and stand ready to green light dozens more. This is a big shift from divisions the party had over the Bush 41 and Bush 43 nominees.”

In addition, Sen. McConnell (R-KY) yesterday “pledged to eliminate the tool [blue slip] used to block judicial nominees.” This tool is what liberal Sen. Al Franken (R-MN) has been using to hold up a good judicial nominee from his home state of Minnesota.

Yes, this Senate majority has missed some opportunities (pray they get tax reform done!), but, if we are honest, we must recognize the heavy lifting they are doing regarding the federal judiciary – a federal judiciary that will have a 3-4 decade influence after Pres. Trump and these current senators (and their tweets) are a distant memory.