Senate Control Matters, but Not Why You Think

Jonathan Chait: It's not about legislation, it's about presidential nominations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2014 12:25 PM CDT
Senate Control Matters, but Not Why You Think
President Obama speaks during a campaign rally for US Rep. Mike Michaud, the Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate, in Portland, Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Republicans look poised to take control of the Senate, and there's all kinds of analysis out there about what this means for President Obama and his legislative agenda. You can safely ignore it all, writes Jonathan Chait at New York. The fact is, which party controls the Senate doesn't matter much on the legislative front, because the heavy lifting gets done in the House. No, "the contest to control the Senate is about one thing: whether Obama can confirm judges and staff his administration."

Traditionally, parties have let an opposing president make such picks and blocked only a rare few. But the polarization is so deep in modern DC that Senate Republicans began filibustering Obama's nominations until Democrats took that tool away. If they gain control of the Senate, Republicans won't need to filibuster anymore—they can block his picks outright. The difference between Democratic or GOP control "is the difference between two full years of filling the judiciary and two years of likely gridlock," writes Chait. And if a Supreme Court opening emerges, "the judicial gridlock could become a Constitutional struggle." Click to read his full column. (More Senate stories.)

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