The Senate Does the Kabuki

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I took an informal poll of Senate staffers from both sides of the aisle today. What do you think will get done by the time the Senate adjourns the end of next week? 99% of the answers: Um, Kagan?

The Senate is about to vote on the DISCLOSURE Act, the Democratic response to the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, it’ll fail. Next week the Senate will vote on an energy bill: it will also likely fail. Give near total GOP opposition to getting nearly anything done at this point and the looming elections, it feels like Democratic leaders are going through the motions of legislation without much enthusiasm. Energy vote? Check. Citizens United vote? Check. Debate on small business jobs bill? Check. Actually, the small business jobs bill is just about the only thing that might get through the Senate, aside from Elena Kagan. Though, an agreement on that is by no means a guarantee.

The House is adjourning at the end of this week for their August recess, a week ahead of schedule. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week flirted with keeping the Senate in an extra week – through August 13 – but that idea died quickly. Members are anxious to get home to campaign and the wind has long gone out of Democrats’ sails.

To be fair, considering this is an election year a lot more has been accomplished than I would have thought possible: health care reform, financial reregulation, a spate of small jobs bills and the supplemental. The silly season has come later than in cycles past. But it certainly has arrived now as members chafe to get home and their aides suffer from senioritis, their summer holidays tantalizingly close.

Often the Senate rushes out with a flurry of midnight votes before summer recess. This session, however, looks to go out more with a whimper than a bang.