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Alabama Upset
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Alabama Upset

Narrow Democratic Win Shaves Already Thin Republican Senate Majority

By a nose. Doug Jones’s 49.9% to 48.4% win of the Senate seat in Alabama could scramble Trump’s legislative agenda. The win shaves Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat.

Reprobate Republican Roy Moore lost the race to succeed Jeff Sessions, now attorney general, in what had been considered one of the Republican party’s safest seats. Moore refused to concede his loss Tuesday night and suggested that he may seek a recount.

“This is what the death of a party looks like, and without an immediate course correction and rejection of the Steve Bannon view of the world, you can lose races in states like Alabama,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Although Jones performed far better than any recent Democrat in the deeply conservative state, his win was clearly enhanced by nearly 23,000 write-in votes, enough to have swung the narrow election to Moore. Trump said so in a late-night tweet. On Sunday, the state’s senior Sen. Richard Shelby urged his fellow Republicans to write in rather than vote for Moore. “I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore,” Shelby said. “The state of Alabama deserves better.”

Jones’s win could throw the GOP plan to pass $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for their richest donors in question. Democrats quickly insisted that Republicans should not vote on a final version of their tax plan until Mr. Jones is sworn into office later this month. Senator Kamala Harris of California tweeted overnight, “Doug Jones should be seated immediately—before we vote again on the tax bill.”

Congressional Republicans are now probably more motivated than ever to get the tax plan passed quickly. A vote could come as early as next week.

Affluent white voters and black voters supported Jones as more than 20,000 others cast write-in ballots. Jones is best known for prosecuting two Klu Klux Klansmen responsible for bombing Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church. Moore was supported by Trump but faced allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl and pursued relationships with other young teenage girls.

COMMENTARY

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush. This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt. Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.” —USA Today, Dec. 12, 2017

Google map showing location of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Chicago

Asian carp. Attorneys general in three Great Lakes states want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ditch the expensive redesign of an Illinois waterway lock and instead close the shipping lane to keep Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

Closing the Brandon Road Lock & Dam on the Des Plaines River with a concrete wall would cost about $5.9 million compared with the $275 million “flushing lock” project the Corps is proposing.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, joined Democrat counterparts Lori Swanson of Minnesota and Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania to call for closing the lock. The three attorneys submitted the letter as a formal comment on the Army Corps’ Brandon Road plan which includes a new electric barrier, a “flushing lock” that would deter fish with noise cannons and a re-engineered shipping channel with water jets. Barge operators and the Illinois state government opposed the plan as an unnecessary and costly burden to shipping traffic.

Grand Canyon. An appeals court ruled that an Obama-era ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon should stay. The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco effectively confirmed that the ban is lawful and the government has the power to impose it. In June, a coalition of conservative leaders urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to overturn the ban. A second decision from the court in a related case was a defeat for the Havasupai Native Americans who have been fighting for years against a part-finished uranium mine they say is a safety threat and a violation of sacred ancestral land. The court rejected the tribe’s appeal against the Canyon Mine, belonging to the mining company Energy Fuels Resources, on National Forest land five miles south of the rim of the Grand Canyon. The mine isn’t part of the ban because it’s based on a historic claim.

December 13, 2017