A couple weeks ago, it looked like the Senate was going to skip town early, after just a couple weeks back from summer recess, so struggling GOP Senators could get home to campaign. Of course, that wasn’t our Senator Thune prepped a different excuse:
It was such a widely adopted fantasy, many Senators like Republican John Thune of SD had a ready explanation for why it wouldn’t be worth sticking around for the rest of September after they got the spending bill done.
“I mean I think doing anything else requires a high level of cooperation, which probably between now and November 8 probably isn’t going to exist around here” [Ailsa Chang, “Deal to Keep the Government Running Past Sept. 30 Eludes Congress,” NPR: Morning Edition, 2016.09.23].
Republicans preach personal responsibility, but here Senator Thune speaks of “cooperation” as something that depends entirely on other agents, utterly outside of his control, even though the third-ranking Republican in the Senate could forge a lot of cooperation if he wanted to.
But Senator Thune doesn’t get to come home yet. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is keeping everyone around to override President Barack Obama’s expected veto of a toothless show-pony 9/11 lawsuits bill that could still provoke diplomatic and economic retaliation against the U.S. Thune and his colleagues can hardly bring themselves to compromise on a continuing spending resolution, never mind a real budget.
Eventually Senator Thune will get home to debate his Democratic challenger Jay Williams in October (13th on SDPB, 14th on KELO-TV, 24th noon at Sioux Falls Rotary, 24th evening on KSFY). Senator Thune will ask us to return him to Washington so he and his Republican colleagues can keep working hard. For Williams, it will be easy to point to this month and the rest of Thune’s overlong D.C. tenure to show Thune has done little but keep Congress from working hard.