In the end, it all comes down to the math, first to build a filibuster-blocking consensus and then, Republicans can only dream, a veto-proof majority.
New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who presides over a 54-seat Republican majority in the Senate, is just six votes short of the coalition he needs to override Democratic filibuster attempts to block GOP-favored Senate bills from landing on the President's desk, The Hill reports.
In his quest to build a coalition on coming battles over key Republican goals — approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project and revision of Obamacare — McConnell has to persuade at least six Democrats to join with him.
Across the Senate aisle, he sees several possibilities, including Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; and Independent Angus King of Maine. Also on McConnell's go-to list are Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.
If McConnell gets his coalition to back the pipeline vote and bypass any Democratic filibuster attempts, and if Obama, as he formally has threatened to do, gets out his veto pen, overriding the veto would be a much harder challenge in both houses of Congress.
While there are nine pro-pipeline Democrats, overriding a veto would require 13 Senate Democrats to cross the line and join with the 54 Republicans, and this is considered unlikely, Politico points out.
In the House, 40 Democrats would have to join GOP members to override a veto, also unlikely given that only 31 supported the pipeline when it came up for a vote in the fall and some of them are now gone, Politico notes.
McConnell still has a good shot at attracting cooperation. Manchin said, "if Republicans want a minimum of six or more Democrats to work with them, and they’re sincere about policy and good policy moving forward, they’re definitely going to reach out, and I’ve reached out to them," The Hill notes.
Kaine said, "I’m very much looking forward to working together with the majority to get things done" and Heitkamp commented, "There’s a lot of discussion about go-to Democrats, but I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in collaborating without violating core principles," The Hill reported.
"I have long said there are some good pieces of the healthcare reform law and some pieces that need to be fixed."
Obama's early veto threats have stirred anger and could well be enough to persuade some Democrats to switch sides.
"I assure you, threatening to veto a jobs and infrastructure bill [the Keystone pipeline] within minutes of a new Congress taking the oath of office — a bill with strong bipartisan support — is anything but productive," McConnell told Fox News,
while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that by threatening vetoes, "the president essentially is telling the American people he really doesn't care what they think."
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