Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott entitled his memoir of his service in that august body “Herding Cats.” Nothing could more aptly describe the centrifugal tendencies of US Senators and their resistance to leaders.
Now, with only a 52-48 majority in the Senate, President-elect Donald Trump must navigate these dangerous waters with rocks on either side. He can only afford to lose three of this fifty-two Republican senators (assuming Vice President-elect Pence votes to break a tie his way).
It will not be easy.
Begin with South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsay Graham who not only refused to endorse Trump after the Republican Convention, but actually admitted to voting for independent Republican Evan McMullin.
And then go to Maine’s notoriously independent Susan Collins, Arizona’s curmudgeon John McCain, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Ohio’s Ron Portman, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake, all of whom refused to back Trump been after he won the GOP nomination. At least Gardner and Flake are solid conservatives and Portman is a part-time one. But there is nothing in the ideology of Susan Collins, John McCain, or Lisa Murkowski that would incline them to back Donald Trump’s program.
So right off the bat, eight of the stray cats wandered out of formation even after Trump nailed down the nomination.
And he’ll have other problems. Moderate Republicans like Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker may have problems with some of Trump’s proposals.
And, Corker, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, is not likely to be happy with Trump’s vow to scrap the treaty with Iran that he let pass through his committee.
These difficulties with senate votes are likely to surface initially over the repeal of Obamacare. Republicans like Bill Cassidy (R-La) have proposed a two-step process where the requirement to buy insurance will remain in force while the Congress works to restructure the program.
If Trump thought carrying Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania was tough, wait until he tries to carry the Senate.
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