Our pals over at Electoral-Vote have a great, insider-baseball-y, the-process-is-important post up:
We’ve talked before about how the calendar could be our friend (and the rules of succession), and this article tells us how the Senate Rules could grind to a complete stop, too:
Normally, the first thing a new Senate does is approve an organizing resolution, which specifies how many Democrats and how many Republicans are on each committee and who is the chair. Since it is not yet known which party will control the chamber—and that might not be known until mid-January—the Senate will be paralyzed for weeks. In practice, that means the committees will stay in their current form way beyond Jan. 3. This creates a problem, because three of the chairmen are retiring from the Senate. Consequently, those committees (Agriculture, Budget, and HELP) cannot meet or function in any way.
…and that means Cabinet nominees in these areas might be delayed; but it also means that other nominees cannot go before the full Senate:
…Early approval is especially important for national security positions. In an extreme example, if the United States is attacked at noon on Jan. 20 the new president might decide to respond with nuclear weapons. In that case, the military officer holding the nuclear football would unquestionably hand it to the new president, who would open it to get the nuclear codes. He would then issue the attack order to the secretary of defense, who would then relay the order to the Joint Chiefs. But what if there is no secretary of defense? Ooops.
But wait! There’s more!
To make things more complicated, the Republicans have a rule that rotates chairs/ranking members every 6 years. Nine committees will get a new top Republican next year, which will set off a game of musical chairs. For example, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will leave the Finance Committee to take over the top Republican slot at the Judiciary Committee, displacing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who will take over for the retiring Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) on the Budget Committee. None of that can even begin until there is an organizing resolution. There are also implications for which staffers go where. In short, things could be chaotic until the Georgia runoffs are settled.
Things to think about as Georgeduh Senate will no-doubt go into recounts and litigation. It’s not just the usual dick-waving from Republicans, there are real-world implications if the Senate cannot come to order to approve nominees, or legislation.