This week Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats struck a deal with Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans. The Democrats wouldn’t try to stand in the way of the pending nominations of fifteen federal judges, and in return, the Republicans would agree to end the session early so everyone could go home and campaign. This has been widely characterized in the press as the Democrats having “caved” or given the GOP a “gift.” However, the facts tell an entirely different, and in fact opposite, story.
First, there was literally nothing the Senate Democrats could have done to prevent the nominations of these fifteen judges. Senate Republicans have the votes lined up to confirm them all. There are no wavering GOP swing votes. None of these judges have scandals that can be trotted out. Under Senate rules, the Democrats would have been very limited in terms of how long they could drag this out. These judges were absolutely, positively, 100% going to be confirmed before the midterms.
So what would the Democrats have gained by dragging this out? Nothing. There are some on the left who want to see the Democrats throw a fit every time something is on the table that they don’t like, even when throwing a fit would accomplish nothing and serve no purpose, but these people are clueless.
Second, there are far more Senate Democrats running for reelection right now than Senate Republicans. So, yes, wrapping up the Senate session early does give the Democrats a notable advantage in terms of going home and campaigning. So when you look at the facts, this deal was completely one-sided in favor of the Democrats, who gained something tangible, while the Republicans gained nothing from it that they weren’t going to get anyway.
Mitch McConnell surely hated this deal, and only felt he had to agree to it because he would have looked bad by spurning the Democrats when they were offering to cooperate with him. In that sense, this was actually a cunning move by Chuck Schumer and the Democrats. Just don’t tell that to the pundits on the left or right, who are busy spinning this deal as a “gift” to McConnell and further evidence that Senate Democrats are supposedly weak. That may be a ratings-friendly narrative on both sides of the aisle, because the right loves to be told that it’s winning, an the left loves to be told that its side isn’t fighting hard enough. The trouble is that it’s simply not true in this instance. The “gift” narrative is essentially fake news.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report