Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Promises New, Improved Senate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republicans say if they win control of the Senate this fall, Mitch McConnell would open up the chamber’s amendment process in his position as Majority Leader.

“If we were in charge and we acted the same way, I would stand up to my own leadership to say that’s not the way the Senate should be conducted,” she said.

Of course, that might sound Pollyanna-ish if Senate Democrats newly in the minority take their revenge on a filibuster-happy GOP by employing tough tactics of their own — or if McConnell can’t keep his Conference on the same page.

Republicans acknowledge they could have at best a slim majority and will still need cooperation from Democrats for most legislation. And just as Reid has at times struggled to keep his slim majority on the same page, McConnell would have to negotiate between a small but committed tea party wing and an emerging group of GOP Senators eyeing grand compromise with Democrats.

But Republicans expect that Romney will provide leadership and spend more time focusing on Senate relationships than Obama.

“The president has been very hands-off,” Ayotte said, in what is a common refrain from Republican Senators who have heard little directly from the commander in chief during the past year.

Republicans are also eager to get their hands on gavels again, and none would be more important than the one that would be wielded by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who expects to chair the Finance Committee and hopes to write a tax reform bill.

Although he has played the part of partisan attack dog as he fended off a spirited primary challenge this year from a tea party candidate, Hatch has a long history of getting bills signed into law, and he already sometimes accidentally calls himself “chairman.”

“Freudian slip,” he quipped last week in a hallway interview.

Hatch sees Romney as a key to breaking the Senate logjam, pointing to his experience turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics and his time in Massachusetts.

“The same kind of intense, really dynamic ability will be used to turn this country around,” Hatch said.

Hatch acknowledges it won’t be easy. “Let’s face it, both sides are polarized right now,” he said.

Democrats dismiss the GOP’s complaints and pledges.

“This is like the monkey wrench telling the gears how to work more efficiently,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said. “The most productive thing Republicans could do is end the record-breaking run of obstruction, delay and gridlock that has defined Sen. McConnell’s legacy and put the interests of the middle class far behind his ‘single most important’ goal of defeating President [Barack] Obama.”

Reid has been locked in a pitched public battle with McConnell over who is to blame for the state of the Senate. Reid blames McConnell and company for engaging in filibuster-by-amendment by offering unrelated items to Democratic legislation. McConnell and the Republicans complain Reid has stifled their input by repeatedly blocking GOP amendments and filling the amendment tree.

Blunt, however, said Reid hasn’t used all of the tools available to him to get the Senate to act.

“There are a couple of rules in the Senate. One is mutual consent. And the other one is exhaustion. And it’s 3:25 on Thursday afternoon and everybody’s leaving,” he said.

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