HomePoliticsDon't worry, be a majority: Democrats shrug off Sinema change

Don’t worry, be a majority: Democrats shrug off Sinema change

“My impression is that it doesn’t change anything about how the Senate works, it doesn’t change anything about how Kyrsten works. All that seems to be changing is the letter next to his name,” Sen said. chris murphy (D-Conn.) said in an interview.

Sinema and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed this week that the Arizona independent would keep its caucus appointments, a remarkable deal that essentially guarantees Democrats will have caucus majorities. When all is said and done, Democrats are likely to enjoy a one-seat advantage on all committee panels, according to two congressional aides familiar with the matter.

That’s not a huge margin for error, but it does free the party from some of the procedural hurdles that Republicans have used over the past two years. The Democratic majority will be able to invoke subpoena powers and more easily advance candidates and legislation through committees, as long as their members stick together. In addition, Democrats can move past other logistical headaches, such as needing to hold a plenary vote to proceed with tied committee nominees, as well as relying on Vice President Kamala Harris for tie-breaking votes.

In characteristically sunny fashion, Schumer put a positive spin on Sinema’s decision. He stated that he is “looking forward to a productive session in the new Democratic-majority Senate. We will maintain our new majority in committees, exercise our subpoena power, and be able to approve nominees without unloading votes.”

More difficult decisions await you. If Sinema runs for re-election, Schumer will have to decide whether she will use the campaign arm of the Senate Democrats to help her bid for a second term or remain neutral. Or perhaps the party decides to support a Democratic candidate while she runs as an independent. Another possibility: That she doesn’t run at all. She is not saying. He also skipped the party’s leadership elections on Thursday.

What Sinema will say, for now, is that he does not expect the “structure” of the Senate to change. And that’s good news for Democrats.

With Republicans occupying the House, Schumer will largely focus on confirming lifetime judicial nominees and completing the rest of President Joe Biden’s administration over the next two years. Schumer, the White House, and Sinema herself see little change in how those votes are distributed. Democrats need a simple majority to move those nominees, and it looks like they will most of the time, without needing Harris’s help.

Sinema noted in an interview that “in most cases” she had voted to confirm Biden’s nominees, “even those with whom I have a political disagreement.” She has voted for Biden’s position 93 percent of the time, according to 538and many of those votes are on nominations.

“Because, in my opinion, it’s not my job to say whether or not I agree politically with the candidate, it’s my job to determine whether or not he’s qualified to do the job,” he said.

The legislation will be tougher. The House will be Republican and the Senate Democratic, with a presidential race heating up and both parties preparing for another fight for control of Congress. That means important legislation will be difficult to pass in both chambers, but Sinema will try anyway and try to continue her cross-partisan approach that the Senate Minority Leader mitch mcconnell calls the “most effective” he’s seen from a first-term senator.

Sinema is a central part of a rotating cast of centrists who have struck deals on new infrastructure, gun safety and marriage equality laws. Sinema also worked with Sen. mitt romney (R-Utah) to raise the minimum wage and is in negotiations with Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) in an immigration packet.

She calls her work with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on that infrastructure proposal a “perfect example of how I approach legislation” — seeing what’s available right now instead of concentrating on just one or two issues for years and years. She’s going to keep trying, even if the odds only get tougher.

“A key to success in this environment is forming meaningful, trust-based relationships with other people. And that has helped me succeed. I don’t anticipate any of that changing at all,” she said.

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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