Dick Morris: GOP Senate victory is key

Dick Morris: GOP Senate victory is key
© Greg Nash

Why, some Republicans are asking, should the GOP focus on winning the Senate this year? What will it achieve as long as Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE is still president? We won’t get 67 votes to override his vetoes, or even 60 votes to overcome filibusters. Why bother?

There are a number of strong reasons why winning the Senate is worth working for.

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If Republicans control the Senate, they can block the confirmation of judges who will allow Obama’s power overreach. You can bet Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE will confirm every judicial nomination in sight before relinquishing control of the chamber in January 2015. But he can’t stop Republicans from blocking confirmations on any new judges the president appoints after the GOP takes the Senate.

The president does not have a line-item veto, so control of both Houses could empower Republicans to put in budget lines that restrict Obama’s favorite programs. Because budget bills don’t need 60 votes, the Senate Democrats can’t stop them.

Obama can, of course, veto the entire budget and set the stage for a government shutdown. But if the Republicans are wise, they will limit their demands to marginal items over which Obama will not play Russian roulette. Instead of defunding all of ObamaCare, for example, just defund the medical device tax and the Payment Advisory Board (what’s been called the death panel).

Republicans would also be able to stop obnoxious treaties from being ratified. Technically, they can so now, as only 37 votes will do the trick, but Reid won’t bring the treaties that might be defeated to the floor. As long as they have not had a ratification vote, the treaties remain in force under the Vienna Convention.

Republicans would be able to bring up votes on — and thereby kill — the Arms Trade Treaty (backdoor gun control) and the Law of the Sea treaty (giving the United Nations power over the oceans). They would also be able to kill the climate change treaty that Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE is negotiating and any possible Internet treaty that undermines Internet freedom.

Some of the administration initiatives have triggered bipartisan opposition. And, as the piles of defeated Democrats mount after the 2014 elections take place in November, there is likely to be more unease among the formerly faithful. On issues like coal, National Security Agency surveillance, trade agreements, gun control, union election rules, restoring welfare reforms under former President Clinton and cracking down on food stamp fraud, there could be enough Democratic support to override a veto or two.

There is more to winning an election than the actual number of seats gained. There is also momentum. A massive political defeat for an incumbent president signifies broad national dislike of his policies and disgust with their outcomes. Obama, for example, did not really recover from his party’s 2010 electoral defeat until he killed Osama bin Laden six months later. The GOP can send the Democrats into 2016 reeling from the blows of 2014.

There are a number of good possible presidential candidates among the Republican Senate minority, including Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE (Fla.). With a majority, they can shine. The can hold hearings, pass bills and develop the momentum and issue basis for strong presidential runs. A victory in 2014 would give them a running start on 2016.

For most Republicans, defeating Obama’s minions is enough motivation to donate sweat and money to the cause. But for others, there is a lot to be gained — concretely — by winning the Senate.

By any count, Republicans stand to win in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. Democratic incumbents are on thin ice in Louisiana, North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas and, during warm weather, Alaska.

Open seats in Michigan and Iowa show competitive Republican candidates in the early going.

Even New Hampshire might be in play.

That’s 11 seats. And the Republicans need only to win six.

So these good things may yet come to pass.

Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.