Democrats are warning that some of the party’s biggest agenda pledges are destined to crash in the Senate, regardless of the 2020 election’s outcome.
Medicare for All, a potential Green New Deal and a push for a $15 minimum wage would struggle to get past a Senate in which Republicans will maintain a great deal of influence, even if Democrats sweep the Senate and defeat President Donald Trump, according to some operatives Friday. It’s a problem of mathematics, Adam Jentleson, a former spokesman for former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, told reporters Friday.
“The Senate is going to make or break the progressive agenda in 2021, regardless of how well we do at the top of the ticket,” Jentleson said, adding that the best Democrats can hope for in 2020 is getting 52 Senate seats, which would require a Herculean effort.
They will need to gain three seats to win a majority.
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine are the only Republicans vying for re-election in states former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Arizona Sens. Martha McSally of Arizona and David Perdue of Georgia, meanwhile, are on the ballot in solidly Republican states. The makeup of the Democrats who might win in those red states might also compound problems.
A 52-seat majority and the Green New Deal would also be dependent on Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Montana’s Jon Tester, all of whom oppose Medicare for All, and getting their votes would be a heavy lift. The Senate has always been the death knell for radical legislation one Republican operative told reporters.
“The Senate is always the dream-catcher for stopping the most partisan and ideologically far-reaching proposals out of the campaign,” Josh Holmes, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told reporters. “What it does is protect the American people from wave elections one way or another” and “forces all legislation toward the middle.”
He added: “There will not be a socialized health care plan, nor will there be a restructuring of the American economy that necessitates crushing the entire energy infrastructure of the country.”
The Green New Deal, which seeks to restructure the national economy and phase fossil fuels out within a dozen years, might also hit rough roads in the House as well.
House Democrats have lost a series of embarrassing procedural battles with Republicans recently. Twenty-six Democrats joined Republicans on a procedural vote Wednesday on a Democratic gun-control bill, adding a provision requiring notification to U.S. officials when illegal immigrants try to buy guns. The move signified a startling division between progressive and moderate Democrats who are trying to stay afloat in red states.
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