Yesterday's Keystone pipeline fail in the Senate may have disappointed one notable Democrat—Louisiana's Mary Landrieu—but it appears to have lit a fire under a whole bunch of others. Liberal Democrats are poised to fight "tooth and nail," as Politico puts it, against the Republican majority on major issues, including the environment, health care for women, campaign finance, and education. "The best news about a Republican majority in the Senate is that the Republican minority is now gone," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tells Politico. "They were just a god-awful minority. ... We will have more tools in the minority than we had in the majority." Even more-conciliatory Dems seem ready to rumble if needed. "I'm not going to be part of sitting down if the Republicans are trying to roll through legislation that I fundamentally disagree with," Missouri's moderate Sen. Claire McCaskill says.
The environment is an especially hot topic, with progressives worried that the fallout from conservatives stymying green regulations and upping energy production won't be able to be remedied afterward. "With respect to climate, you can't just go back … and make it right with [whomever] was hurt by some stupid policy," Whitehouse says. The Dems claim their fighting words aren't meant to get back at Republicans who held things up over the past few years. And at least some Republicans aren't terribly concerned (yet) about the Senate turning into Filibuster Central. "Some pretty liberal Democrats [have said]: 'We can choose to govern in the center and we can try to find some common ground.' I think that's going to happen," Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas says, citing personal conversations he's had. (Here's the general Republican blueprint.)