Majority, minority leaders of the Senate are more pragmatic than you’d think

Recommended by Alan Hickey

Deseret News

Published: Monday, July 2 2012 5:23 p.m. MDT

Senate leaders, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., right, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, while awaiting the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. is at center, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Ariz. is at right, Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa. is second from right.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

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Our take: The battle in the Senate between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel has continually affected legislation brought into Washington. In this article, the dynamic, dueling duos relationship is discussed and their individual characteristics examined to hypothesize about what the future holds.

There has not been a fist-fight on the Senate floor since 1902, when the one-eyed white supremacist Benjamin Tillman (known as Pitchfork Ben after a threat he once made involving Grover Clevelands backside) took a swing at his fellow senator from South Carolina, John McLaurin. For the past four years, however, something resembling a protracted arm-wrestle has pitted Harry Reid against Mitch McConnell, the leaders respectively of the chambers Democratic majority and Republican minority. Their duel could hardly seem milder, fought as it is through obscure procedural manoeuvres with quaint names, from filibustering to filling the tree. Yet the stakes could not be higher: some time before the end of the year, the Senate must vote to forestall a frightening mix of tax increases and spending cuts which has already been enacted and seems certain to plunge America back into recession unless it is rescinded. Even more, perhaps, than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the two manipulators of the Senate hold Americas future in their hands.

Whoever wins the presidential election, after all, the Senate is certain to remain narrowly divided. Since the chambers rules allow a determined minority to hold up almost all legislation, neither party will be able to have things its own way, even if it waits for the next Congress to convene in January. So, irrespective of the election results, it will fall to Messrs Reid and McConnell to strike some sort of deal to avert the impending crisis.

Read more about Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell on The Economist.

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