J. Randolph Evans Column No. 1006
Evans is a partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge and has been recognized as one of the "Best Lawyers In America" and one of Georgia's "most influential people."
The unimaginable has suddenly become very possible. Some political experts now actually predict that Republicans may regain control of the United States Senate in the 2010 election. Just fourteen months ago, such an outcome seemed impossible. After all, heading into the 2010 election cycle, Democrats held a commanding sixty (60) to forty (40) vote margin. Since the Vice President (Democrat Joe Biden) breaks any tie votes (i.e. 50/50), Republicans would have to capture eleven seats in order to gain majority “control” of the U.S. Senate.Of course, there is the question of exactly what does “control” mean in the United States Senate. Most agree on one thing – “control” really does not mean total control of the United States Senate. Instead, there are only varying degrees of procedural advantage. In operation, no political party ever controls the Senate.As Senate Democrats have learned the hard way, not even the mystical sixty vote threshold yields the ability to actually force legislation through the process, with votes being little more than administrative technicalities necessary for valid legislation. (Senator Zell Miller wrote an entire chapter in his book “A National Party No More” that describes in some detail the absurdities of the process.) Instead, every Senator has the ability to slow the process, and a group of Senators can slow, if not outright stall, even the most rudimentary tasks and legislation.