After Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2016, Senate Democrats closed ranks Friday behind New York Sen. Chuck Schumer as his leadership successor.
Like Reid, Schumer is a liberal Democrat. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1980, he was elected to the Senate in 1998, defeating Republican incumbent Alfonse D'Amato.
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Here are eight things to keep in mind about Schumer and how he would likely attempt to advance the liberal agenda:
1. He is a longtime ally of liberal environmentalist ideologues.
Schumer opposed the Keystone pipeline, and has been a reliable ally of environmentalist groups opposed to virtually any efforts to develop America's bountiful oil and gas resources.
Schumer has a 91 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, higher than Reid's 80 percent. He has supported green-energy tax credits and backed the repeal of oil-industry tax breaks, and last September he participated in a New York City march for action on "climate change."
2. He will fight Republican efforts to repeal all or part of Obamacare.
Schumer was part of the Democratic majority that rammed through the Affordable Care Act five years ago, and he has worked with Reid and the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats in fighting every Republican effort change the law or reform some of its most onerous aspects, such as the "individual mandate" – the requirement that all Americans have federally approved health insurance coverage or pay fines.
3. He will mobilize Democrats in demagogy against Republicans who oppose budget-busting spending bills.
Schumer currently heads the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), which serves as a policy formulation and messaging arm of the Senate Democratic leadership.
During this week's long budget debate, the DPCC attacked the Republican majority for opposing an amendment by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (an avowed socialist who caucuses with Schumer and the Democrats) to create "a national infrastructure bank and millions of new jobs."
4. He will play class-warfare politics, attacking Republicans for refusing to increase taxes on the American people.
During this week's budget debate, Schumer's DPCC attacked Republicans for voting against an amendment by Washington Sen. Patty Murray that would have raised revenue "by closing wasteful tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations." (In other words, the Republicans voted against the kind of job-destroying tax hikes favored by Schumer and President Barack Obama.)
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5. He will try to smear Republicans as anti-women if they oppose ill-considered concepts advanced by Democrats.
Also during the budget debate, Republicans voted down an amendment proposed by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski promoting "equal pay for women," according to Schumer's DPCC, which declared that "every Republican Senator voted against equal pay."
But the premise was a false one, because equal pay has been the law of the land for more than half a century. Republicans were opposing the false premise pushed by Schumer and others on the left that women earn less pay because employers are invidiously discriminating. In fact, virtually the entire "pay gap" can be explained by demographic factors, including the fact that women are more likely to move in and out of the workforce because of pregnancy and child-care issues.
6. Schumer is a bitter foe of gun rights.
He has attacked the National Rifle Association as a "fringe group," and told the Huffington Post he wants to limit the number of bullets in a clip. Reid, a Westerner who typically won re-election by slender margins, was reluctant to bring up legislation restricting gun rights. Not so with Schumer, a liberal Easterner who usually cruises to victory in a blue state and has become one of the most high-profile advocates in Congress for restricting gun rights.
7. Schumer was a leading negotiator for and top advocate of the bipartisan immigration overhaul passed by the Senate in June 2013.
Opposition to the measure was led by Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, who slammed the bill as a budget-busting amnesty measure that would undermine the rule of law by granting legal status to millions of people in the country illegally.
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8. Although he's known as a tenacious supporter of Israel, that support has some surprising limits when Obama's interests are involved.
In January 2013, Schumer pronounced himself reassured after meeting with Chuck Hagel, nominated by Obama to serve as secretary of defense despite a record of comments disparaging pro-Israel groups.
In a scathing blog post titled, "Chuck Schumer, Cheap Date," the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol expressed hope that other senators "won't follow Schumer's lead in making fools of themselves" by abdicating their responsibility to carefully consider whether a nominee is fit for the position.
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