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December 11, 2013 5:12 PM Hot Air For the Holidays

By Ed Kilgore

I’d say the one political fact we can all agree on is that the American people (and this time the situation justifies that vast collective attribution) are pretty thoroughly sick of this session of the 113th Congress. Assuming the budget deal gets wrapped up on schedule, I don’t see any appetite for keeping them around Washington (except maybe among the long-term unemployed who might desperately hope, though not with any real justification, that Congress might throw them a lifeline before benefits run out December 31).

So I really don’t get this Senate GOP gambit, as reported by The Hill’s Alexander Bolton:

Senate Republicans will stage a more than 30-hour talkathon on the Senate floor to protest Democrats’ triggering of the “nuclear option” last month.
The GOP protest, which could extend into the weekend, will throw a wrench in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) hopes of wrapping up legislative business for 2013 as soon as possible.
Republicans will delay a final vote on Cornelia Pillard, one of President Obama’s picks for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, until about 1 a.m. Thursday.
Then, Senate Republicans will hold the floor throughout the night, speaking out against Reid’s use of the nuclear option. Reid invoked the controversial tactic before Thanksgiving to strip Republicans of the power to filibuster judicial and executive branch nominees. The rules change did not affect Supreme Court picks.
“When you blow up the Senate rules, there has to be a consequence,” said a Republican senator.

What consequence? Bleeding eardrums? A late start on holiday shopping?

This sounds like one of those GOP exercises in using Congress to communicate an exclusive message via conservative media to “the base,” with all the props and pretenses associated with actual Senate business. This time, though, it will be an extended whine over procedural matters that probably don’t interest even inveterate Fox watchers. And indeed, the conservative activists who do care about the demise of the confirmation filibuster are probably cheering, since it could make it easier to restock the judiciary with Federalist Society members if and when Republicans regain control of the White House and the Senate at the same time.

Or maybe Senate GOPers just want to give some of their more primary-vulnerable members a chance to rant and rave and shake their fists at the Democrat Party before they endure television ads describing them as godless RINOs working hand-in-glove with Obama to impose secular-socialist tyranny on us all. But it’s still a weird way to end a weird year.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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