Focus Point - Senate Power Shift

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Ok, so the democrats now run the show in the senate. That doesn't mean majority leader Tom Daschle will always get his way.

First, the senate's not the house, where committee chairmen have the power of renaissance popes, and can rigidly control which bills see daylight and which die quiet deaths.

In the senate, anybody can propose legislation. Committee chairmen have the power of, say, high school guidance counselors. And minority senators always have the filibuster.

Then there are the dozen or so conservative democrats who have voted with the republicans on things like tax cuts.

So while the dems own the senate, on key votes they can't automatically count on winning. Even the Jeffords voted for Bush's education bill, and super-liberal Diane Feinstein joined conservative democrats supporting the tax cuts. Five of them, including Bush-friendly Zell Miller and John Breaux, voted for the Bush budget, which restricted spending increases to four percent - a knife in the heart of big-spending democrats.

So for conservatives, it could be worse.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.