For Trump, challenge of governing with Dem House, but full speed ahead with GOP Senate

It took a while for President Trump to get used to working with the Republican-led Congress, but he developed a style of dealing with lawmakers that led to the passage of tax reform and a number of smaller measures.

Now, though, with Democrats winning control of the House, Trump faces the challenge of working with an empowered opposition whose leaders are motivated by intense animus toward the president -- and who will have the ability to stop any Trump legislative initiatives cold. On the other hand, with the Republicans keeping and strengthening control of the Senate, Trump will be able to continue what has been the single most important accomplishment that has bonded him not just with his base but with the Republican establishment that remains cool to him: judicial appointments.

In the runup to the midterms, when Trump adopted a Senate-focused campaign strategy, some left-leaning commentators suggested that Trump was desperate to keep the Senate because he knew it would be the jury that could acquit him if he is impeached by the House. But the fact is, if impeachment happened, Trump could easily be acquitted by a Democratic-controlled Senate, just as Bill Clinton was acquitted by a Republican-led Senate. A much bigger factor is this: Trump needs the Senate to stay in Republican hands to keep his extraordinary line of judicial confirmations going. And now he has it.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham saw it Tuesday evening, tweeting, "When the GOP maintains control of the Senate, the conservative judicial train is going to keep running!" So far, the Senate has confirmed two Trump Supreme Court justices, 29 circuit court of appeals judges, and 53 district court judges. That is more than any other president in memory at this stage in his presidency. About one-sixth of the federal judiciary now consists of Trump nominees. Look for Trump and Senate GOP leaders to keep increasing that number.

It's particularly notable that the event that helped give the Senate a bigger Republican majority for future confirmations was the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted for Kavanaugh and won. Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly voted against Kavanaugh and lost. North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh and lost. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill voted against Kavanaugh and lost. Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson both voted against Kavanaugh, and both are trailing in races that have not yet been called. (Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller appears to be the only Republican who voted for Kavanaugh and lost.)
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