Alabama voters elected Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate Tuesday evening, but another Democrat is actually unlikely to prove any more of an obstacle for Republican leaders than a handful of their own senators already have.
Republicans have held a majority in the Senate for over eleven months, yet have only managed to pass one piece of major legislation through the chamber. At nearly every turn in 2017, a small coalition of Republican senators have derailed the party’s legislative efforts, offering victory after victory to Democrats.
Even with the loss of a seat to Jones, Republicans still retain enough of a majority to pass whatever legislation they want, provided all 51 Republican senators vote in lockstep. Senate Republicans passed a budget in October that allows leadership to pass legislation with only 51 “yes” votes and bypass filibusters from Democrats altogether.
Jones also won’t be a factor Republicans have to consider for a number of weeks. Leadership announced Tuesday that Jones will not likely be seated until after the Christmas recess, which means Republicans will maintain their 52 seat majority while finalizing tax reform and negotiating the upcoming budget agreement.
If anything, the election of Jones is a test for a leadership body that has already had a nearly impossible time rallying members of their own party.
Former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore’s loss could cause Republicans a number of headaches going into the 2018 election cycle. Jones win means Republicans cannot lose another seat in the 2018 election cycle, or they will lose their majority.
The state of Alabama is historically a Republican stronghold and Jones is the first Democrat the state has sent to the Senate since 1992. Moore’s loss makes Democrats’ path to a majority in 2018 that much easier.
Moore’s loss is also undoubtedly a setback for President Trump, who backed Jones in opposition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others in leadership.
But here’s the bottom line for Republicans: the biggest thing stopping them from pushing their agenda is themselves.
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