GOP Senators Waste Big Bucks Trying to Keep Franken Seat-less
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It is now clear that Senate Republicans have a strategy for maintaining their ability to stall -- or, at the least, dramatically alter -- Obama administration initiatives.
Individual GOP senators are paying big bucks to keep the Senate's 100th seat -- representing Minnesota -- vacant for as long as possible.
In effect, key Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are paying $10,000 a piece to maintain their power to obstruct Congress.
Consider it an investment in the short-term future.
The partisan divide in the Senate is currently 58 Democrats (56 party members and two independents who caucus with the Democrats, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders) versus 41 Republicans.
That 41 figure is perilously close to the number that Republicans need to threaten filibusters. It takes 60 seats to invoke cloture and force action on legislation and appointments in the tradition-bound Senate.
If Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Al Franken, who state officials determined weeks ago won the Senate seat by 225 votes, is seated it would be harder to block Senate deliberations. And with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter -- a moderate, labor-friendly Republican who faces a tough reelection fight in a Democratic state next year showing a willingness to deal -- GOP Senate leaders well understand the vulnerability of their position.
So Republican senators are pouring money into the dead-end recount fight of former Senate Norm Coleman.
John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent.