The Midmorning Refill: Eugene Robinson on the GOP's reality check

Today’s Flickr photo

East Village, NYC. Flickr photo. Flickr photo by WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com)'s photostream.

If you read one thing today . . .

Eugene Robinson’s oped in Truthout says the 112th Congress isn’t necessarily a doom-and-gloom scenario for Democrats. True the Dems lost the House and gave up their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate but if the closing days of the 111 Congress tell us anything, it’s that the GOP may have a harder time holding its ranks in the new year.

In the Senate, there could be as many as 11 Republicans who might defect and vote with the Democrats, depending on the issue. There’s a small but newly assertive group of moderates — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and independent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — along with newcomer Mark Kirk of Illinois, who seem likely to fit that mold. And judging by the vote tallies in the lame-duck session, a half-dozen other GOP senators are willing to go their own way.

This means that if Majority Leader Reid plays his cards well — and recently he has been playing very well indeed — it will be difficult for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep enough of his troops together to sustain a filibuster. The new Senate will be considerably more Republican than the old Senate, but whether it’s actually more conservative remains to be seen.

Overheard:

Just in case you weren’t certain how incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) feels about the Environmental Protection Agency and its ability to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act, there’s this quote in Robin Bravender’s Politico piece:

“The EPA has its foot firmly on the throat of our economic recovery,” he said. “We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate.”