With Trump controlling the White House, and Republicans controlling Congress, some Democrats have taken comfort in the fact that Senate Republicans do not possess a supermajority in the Senate (60 votes). Theoretically, without a supermajority Republicans would still have to work with Democrats to achieve certain legislative goals, and Democrats would have the ability to stop the worst impulses of Republican legislators. However, Republicans are now taking unprecedented steps to defy long-standing Senate rules, seeking to undermine what little power Senate Democrats possess.
As reported by CNN, Senate Republicans “took an extraordinary step to move forward with two of President Trump’s top Cabinet nominees after confronting a boycott from Democrats across the aisle. Republican lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee — the panel that oversees the nomination of Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services — gathered for the second day in a row with Democrats on the committee refusing to show up.”
“Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) allowed the Republicans on the committee to vote to suspend the rules of the committee… Under the rules, it is required that at least one Democrat be present for the panel to vote to send a nominee to the Senate floor. On Tuesday, not a single Democrat showed up, putting the two nominations at a standstill. With the committee rules suspended, the 14 Republicans in the room voted Wednesday morning to move the Mnuchin and Price nominations to the full Senate.”
Senate Republicans appear to believe they are above the rules of the institution they serve. Time will tell if there will be any consequences.