AFTER FRANKEN

GOP Braces for Supermajority

Minnesota's newest senator-elect, Al Franken, celebrated a long-awaited victory today, but how relevant is his ascent to Congress? Franken's victory ostensibly gives the Democrats a filibuster-proof supermajority, with 60 caucusing members in the Senate. Faced with the smallest Republican minority since 1978, RNC chair Michael Steele lamented, "I can say without hesitation that this government is totally theirs [the Democrats'] now." But the Christian Science Monitor points out that the last president to preside over a supermajority—Jimmy Carter—still had trouble pushing legislation through due to "a critical mass of Southern Democrats [who were] deeply divided." Fox News points out that, of the 60 members of the Democratic Caucus, two are independent (Vermont's Bernie Sanders and Connecticut's Joe Lieberman) and poor health from Dem heavyweights Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd keep the left's vote counts down. Also at issue, argues Fox, are a group of "moderate-to-conservative" Demorats including Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, Montana's Jon Tester, and newly-anointed Democrat Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.