A procedural vote Sunday to repeal Obamacare couldn’t win over a majority of the GOP-led Senate, while a bid to revive an obscure exports agency succeeded, delivering twin blows to conservatives as they navigated a thorny path toward a highway bill that’s raised questions about civility and Republican discord in the august chamber.
Allies of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kicked off a kooky weekend session by scolding Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, for flouting the Senate’s rules of comity. The 2016 presidential candidate accused Mr. McConnell on Friday of lying about whether he’d struck a deal to revive the federal Export-Import Bank, which faces a slow death after its charter expired June 30.
“We’re not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said, adding he worries about the future of the institution.
As I wrote just before the last election, the ideal outcome for conservatives would have been a GOP retaking of the Senate and a loss of McConnell’s seat in Kentucky to Alison Lundergan Grimes. As for Orrin Hatch, I stand by what I wrote over at National Review back in 2012:
Most Republican eyes are on the upcoming Wisconsin June recall election and the fates of Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, but two other races to watch carefully are the primaries of Senators Dick Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Both men were born in the 1930s and have been in the Senate since 1976. If the GOP is to have a future as a conservative party, it’s time for them to go.
Hatch is the worst kind of Republican establishment figure, who feints to his right when he needs to placate the people he “hates” and then, once safely ensconced in the comfy chair for six more years, resumes pursuit of his first love: Senate “comity.”
Besides, who cares about the “future of the institution,” so aptly characterized by P.J. O’Rourke as a Parliament of Whores? The Senate was changed irrevocably by the passage of the 17th Amendment, one of the disastrous “Progressive-Era” amendments that also gave us Prohibition and the income tax. Now the Senate is controlled by a bunch of time-serving, bum-kissing, arse-protective hacks determined to squelch any views that run afoul of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party.
As many predicted, the procedural vote to repeal Obamacare received only a 49-43 plurality, well short of the 60-vote supermajority needed to limit debate and advance to an up-down vote. The Ex-Im vote easily surmounted that hurdle, 67 votes to 26, clearing the way for it to be added to the bill later on. Twenty-four Republicans and every Democrat who cast a vote Sunday backed the Export-Import Bank measure, while the Obamacare measure fell short on a party-line vote.
It was the first time the Senate voted on Obamacare repeal in this Congress, although its budget assumed the law’s repeal. While the GOP holds the majority, eight lawmakers — five of them Republicans — missed the weekend vote.
The next time you’re tempted to vote Republican because the Democrats are even worse, stop and ask yourself this: in what way?