As discussed in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today, there’s emerging evidence that Democrats intend to move all of their most controversial legislation — and their hearts’ deepest desires — to a lame duck session after the November elections. That way, their members don’t have to take tough votes in advance of their elections in the fall, but Democrats still get to take advantage of their once-in-a-generation situation of huge majorities in Congress with a friendly president. Card check, cap-and-trade, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy — it’s all in the lame-duck agenda.
There is nothing illegal, unconstitutional, or improper about this. It is, however, anti-democratic, cynical, and entirely preventable. In response, the 41 Republican members of the U.S. Senate should issue a joint statement, signed by everyone, making it clear that while they will attend and participate in any session of the Senate that is called, they will all vote against cloture on every piece of legislation brought to the floor during a lame-duck session (at least assuming there is no imminent threat to the nation or somesuch thing).
That kind of statement, made now rather than in November, will take the pressure off folks like Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe. They might be inclined to vote in favor of certain of the Democrats’ measures on a substantive basis, but they have to resent being used to pass legislation that, had it been voted on in October, could have won the Republicans a couple more Senate seats. By saying now that they’re happy to vote on anything they bring up before November, they give themselves cover in case they are forced to vote on items their constituencies would expect them to support. Senators can then say, “I would have voted for it if the Democrats had operated with transparency and honor before the election, but I can’t support this manipulative lame-duck agenda, no matter what it is.”