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Can the GOP Create Consensus from Gridlock?

by Brandon Fallon, published

When the House switched to Republican control in the 2010 midterms, it was treated as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health care law. Two years later, the GOP set its sights on the White House. However, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was not able to beat Obama. Now, the Senate is the prize in next week’s elections.

The GOP is now promising consensus the same way Obama, as a presidential candidate, promised unity. The current Senate minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would have the most to gain from Republicans taking over the majority and that responsibility falls on him.

Critics would say that this was part of his master plan to obstruct Obama’s executive orders and legislative efforts, but the senior senator from Kentucky understands the power behind a disgruntled electorate and the importance of consensus.

Especially, if that consensus crosses partisan lines:

“An executive order can’t . The fiat of a nine-person court can’t do it. A raucous and precarious partisan majority in the House can’t do it. The only institution that can make stable and enduring laws is the one we have in which all 50 states are represented equally, and where every single senator has a say in the laws that we pass.”

The Senate majority leader can’t simply pass all the bills he wants no matter what party he belongs to. It would benefit the Republicans to be more open with their opponents once they are in charge so as not to re-create the obstructionist methods that became a trait of both parties.

There are some areas where McConnell should not cave in with the more conservative wing of the House. Take health care reform for example.

The Democratic majority in the Senate has been the primary bulwark preventing any House-approved repeal-Obamacare legislation. Now, even if the Senate does turn red, the ACA still has other safeguards protecting it.

There is no way Obama will sign a law repealing his prized legislative victory. It would be futile for McConnell to focus on that while the public is clamoring for Congress to fix so many other areas like the economy and jobs, foreign policy, and energy policy.

There are plenty of stories in the news about what the Republicans will do when they pick up 6 seats. Their goal should not be to continue running Congress the way their colleagues ran the House since 2010. There will be no need for that.

Sen. McConnell will be judged on his words if he is serious about creating a non-raucous and more certain Senate. If working with Democrats to pass bills is the way to go, so be it. The trick will be to select the bills that can survive a filibuster, assuming McConnell is serious about changing that rule as well.

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