This is a problem that could be a problem but hopefully won’t be a problem.
The other day Congress repealed an apparently minor Department of Education rule dealing with teacher preparation standards, which Congress can do within 60 days of a rule’s implementation under the Congressional Review Act. Obama was always too attracted to shiny objects flashed around by the testing-industrial complex and its accomplices in the education “reform” sector, and there might be perfectly good reasons to nullify the rule. But that’s not what this is about.
The other Democrats were Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Nelson and Tester. Angus King, the Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, also voted with the Republicans on this one.
Heitkamp, McCaskill, Manchin, Nelson and King are also listed as potential crossovers to support a much more sweeping and dangerous Republican assault on federal health, safety and consumer protection regulations. Fortunately, Cortez Masto isn’t.
And of the ten rules the current Congress has overturned under the Congressional Review Act, Cortez Masto only broke with the overwhelming majority of Democrats and voted with Republicans the one time.
In addition to beating Joe Heck, Cortez Masto has done some other cool stuff: For instance, when a disgraced former governor, Jim Gibbons (ha remember him?), wanted to sue the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act, then-Attorney General Cortez Masto said no. (Gibbons had to hire an attorney named Mark Hutchison, who would later get a part-time job in state government.)
On the other hand, Cortez Masto has always seemed a pretty cautious and calculating mainstream Nevada politician, more passionate about her career than, say, income inequality. And her native milieu — Harry Reid’s Nevada Democratic Party — though not shy with respect to campaign tactics, has been notoriously timid, accommodating and unimaginative on a policy level over the years. There’s inertia there.
Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Nelson and King may very well be a problem. Cortez Masto is not up for reelection next year, not from a state Trump won, and seems to be as sincerely and genuinely disgusted by Trump as most sentient humans. One vote on an obscure rule is no reason to expect Cortez Masto will join Heitkamp et al. to facilitate some of the slightly less outrageous, or lower-profile yet still pernicious, Trump agenda items.
But given the stakes — democracy, the nation, the rule of law, human rights, nuclear winter, etc. – any and every time Cortez Masto votes with Trump and the Republicans, it deserves notice.