The Gridlockpocalypse

by Patrick Appel

Cassidy heralds its coming. He contends that “the G.O.P. is likely to gain the six seats it needs to capture the Senate, which could well usher in a two-year standoff with the White House that would make the current gridlock look like a model of benign administration”:

It’s not just that nothing would get done about things like climate change, gun control, and long-term budget reform. With the Republicans exercising a legislative veto through their majority in the House of Representatives, we have already been stuck on these issues, and many others, for three-and-a-half years. If the G.O.P. takes over the Senate, it will also gain the power to block Presidential appointees much more easily than it can do as the minority party—and a good deal of day-to-governance will probably grind to a halt. Judgeships and ambassadorships will remain vacant for want of candidates acceptable to both parties. Cabinet members and other nominees to the executive branch will have an even harder time getting appointed than they do now—and the situation is already so dire that it’s an international embarrassment to the United States.

But John Dickerson wants the GOP to take the Senate and be forced to govern:

For the moment, partisanship provides an excuse and impediment to action. House Republicans pass legislation, but their views never have to be sharpened or reconciled with those of their Senate colleagues. Control of both houses could force clarity in the GOP on issues like immigration, which leaders have ducked so far, claiming they didn’t have a trusted partner in the president. That is a dodge to keep from starting a fight in the party over a contentious issue.

When you control both houses, this kind of inaction can’t be allowed if the goal is to be taken seriously as a governing party. Republicans would also have to provide more concrete votes on issues like health care, tax reform, and implementing portions of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget. Republican strategists know the GOP has to shake the “Party of No” label, which means producing actual accomplishments—that is, unless you want the governors in the GOP 2016 field using you as a foil. (Of course they’re already doing that anyway).