It’s a near-perfect metaphor for life in the Senate: getting tired, faltering, waiting and hoping to finally reap a big legislative reward. In a deteriorating political environment fueled by 24/7 cable news and social media obsession with the politics of instant gratification, it’s no surprise that Kane has almost found a “moment to give up.”
Kaine’s imminent departure has sparked some fire drills by Democrats, who fear that an already difficult 2024 campaign map could become even trickier if the popular two-term incumbent chooses to retire.
Senator Tim Kaine says he will seek re-election
But it also raises concerns that the Senate will lose another major force trying to find a bipartisan compromise, following the departure last year of a handful of Republicans who traditionally worked the aisle.
The other four in the Democratic caucus — Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin III (DW. Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) — both face decisions to run again in the coming months after playing a key role in bipartisan bills in the previous Congress.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who will turn 77 on Election Day in 2024, must also decide whether to seek re-election after serving as a Republican dealmaker.
Even if they do run, some of these centrists are expected to face very tough re-election in 2024 and may not return.
The fix: The 2024 election could be brutal for Senate Democrats
Republicans retired last year, That, combined with a re-election decision this year and an election next year, could weaken the Senate as the core center of the legislature. A rotating lineup of more than two dozen senators serve in bipartisan “gangs” that act as a hip caucus that pushes legislation into law.
Beginning in late 2020, a bipartisan group of nine senators worked out a framework for what would eventually become a $900 billion pandemic relief package. The panel, split evenly among 20 senators, has paved the way for more than $1 trillion in infrastructure plans through the summer of 2021.
The final legislation aimed at kick-starting the domestic semiconductor industry was reached through bipartisan talks among key rank-and-file senators. It comes just after a group of two Republicans and two Democrats enacted the first modest form of gun control legislation since 1994.
The same thing happened with bills codifying same-sex marriage rights and amending election laws in an attempt to thwart yet another attempt to overturn the presidential election like the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
This productivity was the driving force behind Kane’s decision to switch to New Covenant and seek another term.
“The Senate is frustrating. Things aren’t moving fast enough,” he told reporters in Richmond, citing some recent successes in Virginia and across the country. “I think we’ve [a] Taking it in stride, I think I’m getting better at it. Because it’s a weird place, the Senate, and you’ve got to learn to deal with it better. “
Yet these bipartisan efforts are both a congratulations to the dealmakers and a continuing repudiation of how the Senate continues to stray from its original design.
None of these successes came from “standing orders,” as the old-timers like to call them. Schoolhouse Rock’s song “I’m Just a Bill” lets kids know that bills start in committee, pass through the House, then the Senate, then reach a compromise and need to pass each chamber again.
That process has been aborted over the past decade as congressional leaders, especially those in the Senate, have demanded more power from the committee room.
The Washington Post Live: Two key senators talk about their legislation to help the U.S. semiconductor industry
Derek Willis, now a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, built a database five years ago to monitor the actions of Congress for a project co-produced by The Washington Post and Pro Publica. ACT, the project demonstrates the atrophied nature of the legislative debate.
During Harry M. Reid’s first term as Senate majority leader, in 2007-08, the Nevada Democrat allowed nearly 64 percent of the vote for legislative amendments. Amendments used to be the foundation of everything rank-and-file senators did to participate in the system. During Reid’s last term as majority leader, in 2013-14, less than 22 percent of the vote supported the amendment.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allowed 53 percent of the vote to pass the amendment in his first term as majority leader in 2015-16. It fell to a record low of less than 10% during his final term in 2019-20.
In 2021 and 2022, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is slightly more open than McConnell, according to Willis’ database. More than 23% of the roll call was for the amendment.
but many of them Amendment votes took place over four sessions, about two days each, when Democrats used parliamentary machinery to pass two massive bills on party-line voting — in exchange they had to allow a nearly unlimited number of bills to be introduced. amendment.
Otherwise, most legislation is considered with little input from rank-and-file senators, unless they happen to be part of a “gang” crafting a compromise.
Even the popular bipartisan bill doesn’t see the same light. The Pentagon’s national policy bill used to take about two weeks to debate and amend in the Senate, deliberating for hours last month and taking several amendment votes before finally passing.
A lack of strong activity has prompted senators like Romney, Sinema, King and the recently retired Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to set up these informal bipartisan meetings on issues like infrastructure.
If these so-called gangs are to continue to thrive, they need to reach a critical mass in terms of senators willing to engage. Portman’s successor, Senator JD Vance (right), espouses a far-right anti-establishment ethos that doesn’t lend itself to working across party lines.
The Radicalization of JD Vance
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), now retired after years of working with Democrats on the Appropriations Committee, is replaced by Sen. Eric Schmidt (R), who ran in last year’s Republican primary China has spent a lot of time trying to win the support of Democrats over former President Donald Trump.
The Republicans who have jumped into challenging Tester and Manchin come from the party’s MAGA model, and if they displace those centrist Democrats in January 2025, they could dramatically shift the ideological balance.
Kaine has seen his own personal ambitions—Congress rewrites the 2001 and 2002 war resolutions to update the current rules of engagement—as committee chairs can’t persuade Senate leaders to devote speaking time to what would be cumbersome and Time-consuming debate.
In deciding to run for re-election, Kaine said he would like to see successful bipartisan groups continue their work. He even suggested that the path to overhauling immigration and border laws might be just that.
He may have to play a bigger role in those types of talks now that so many Republicans have retired and his Democratic colleagues are considering doing the same or running a tough re-election campaign.
Kane has a resume — mayor, governor, National Party president, vice-presidential candidate, senator — with leadership.
“After the decision was made, I gave it my all,” he said on Friday.
The bigger question may be whether, in two years’ time, enough senators like him will reap the fruits of their hard work.