Democrats are in the driver's seat in the Senate, and it's "as if" Harry Reid is still the majority leader. At least, that's the conclusion Breitbart.com drew from what it calls "empirical data."
In fact, Reid, a Democratic senator from Nevada, is the leader of the Senate minority this year: His Democratic caucus has 46 members, including two independents, compared to 54 for the Republicans. But Breitbart took a look at confirmation votes and legislation during the 114th Congress to make the case that Democrats are driving the agenda.
"In fact, with two minor exceptions, every single vote that has passed the U.S. Senate since the beginning of this Congress in January has passed with at least—usually more than—93 percent of support from Democrats," said the self-described "conservative news and opinion website."
The Breitbart analysis focused on bills that went to a roll call vote. Motions are routinely agreed to, and amendments passed, with little Democratic support, and Democratic senators routinely see their own legislation tabled.
Even so conservative diehards can now appreciate how liberals felt when they saw President Barack Obama's agenda stymied when Democrats had control of the Senate.
Republicans are now rueing, and Democrats exploiting, a fact of life in the Senate: Rules of the chamber don't allow much of anything to get done unless a lot of members — generally more than either party can muster by itself — agree.
In the Senate, it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster — parliamentary-speak for talking a bill to death. That means that any major piece of legislation requires a super-majority. When Democrats held the majority, the situation became so frustrating for President Barack Obama's party that Reid in 2013 made a controversial change in Senate rules to allow presidential nominees to be confirmed with a simple majority.
So now do Republicans want to change the rules to get rid of the filibuster for legislation?
Not necessarily. Filibuster rules are "there to protect the minority," Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, told Bloomberg Thursday. "As much as I would love to get some things done... I have to say, in the long term, we have to protect the integrity of the Senate."