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 ObamaBoos for Obama as Trump speaks at Boy Scout jamboree Feehery: Winning August Overnight Regulation: Trump looks to repeal Obama fracking rule | States sue EPA over chemical safety | Regulators mull future of 'Volcker Rule' 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 ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West 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 KerrySenators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Dems see huge field emerging to take on Trump Budowsky: Dems need council of war 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 CruzTed CruzCruz being considered to replace Sessions: report GOP looks to revise health bill after blow from parliamentarian Brooks sparks controversy with Scalise shooting ad MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRand PaulUnhappy senators complain about healthcare process Judd Gregg: For Trump, reaching out would pay off This week: ObamaCare repeal vote looms over Senate MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioMexican politicians have a new piñata: Donald Trump Bush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  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.