Mitch McConnell used procedural tricks last year to block Democrats from having any say in legislation. This year, he may not be able to.
Last year, Senate Democrats were completely shut out of any real decision-making or negotiation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell passed a series of budget resolutions that fast-tracked various GOP wish list items and prevented Democrats from filibustering, as long as all the bills included only budget-related provisions.
That is why the Senate would have needed only 51 votes to pass their failed Obamacare repeal and why they did need only 51 votes to pass their tax scam.
But in a potentially devastating blow to the GOPs legislative prospects this year, Senate Republicans have admitted they may not be able to do that again, according to Politico:
White House and Hill GOP leaders discussed the possibility of foregoing the painful budget process during last weekends Camp David legislative summit, according to four sources familiar with the talks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that he cannot pass controversial deficit-reduction legislation using powerful budget procedures with his new 51-vote majority and wasnt even sure he could find the votes for a fiscal blueprint in the first place.
If the GOP is unable to pass a budget framework, it means all of their priorities this year including House Speaker Paul Ryans plan to gut Medicaid and welfare programs will require an impossible 60 votes in the Senate. It will leave them no choice but to sit down and truly hammer out bipartisan agreements with Democrats.
Part of McConnells impotence comes from the upset victory of the newly elected Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who has narrowed the GOP majority down to the cusp of extinction.
Additionally, some GOP senators clearly feel constituent outrage after the concerted resistance to their agenda last year bombarded them with calls, faxes, emails, and throngs of protestors. As Politico noted, the "difficult politics of an election year that threatens Republicans hold on Congress" is also top of mind for many in the party.
Indeed, the prospect of going through all of that again in an election year is surely not inviting.
Republicans have managed in the past to subvert regular order and ram through policies that the American people despised. But it seems some in the GOP have seen the writing on the wall, and are too afraid of resurgent backlash from the voters to try such schemes again.