The campaign for Senate control increasingly looks like a flip-of-the-coin affair — a 50-50 split after the election is not far-fetched.
That could be a nightmare in the making for whoever wins the White House.
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Any individual senator — from Elizabeth Warren on the left to Ted Cruz on the right — could almost single-handedly block the new president’s cabinet picks depending on which party is in power. If you think the past several years of Senate gridlock has been bad, it might look like a joy ride by comparison.
“It’ll be a whole new shooting match,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
“One of the concerns that I have is that [with] the rancor of this campaign, everybody will feel like it’s still open season on whoever the elected president is,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). “I hope we can get beyond that.”
The Senate’s unique power over confirmations means the chamber will be called upon early and often to ratify President Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump’s cabinet selections. The election outcome could have a big bearing on that: What once looked like a potential wave year for Democrats has tightened to the point an evenly-divided Senate has become a real possibility. That would leave virtually no margin for error when it comes to approving the president’s team next year.
“We’re looking at a Senate somewhere between 52 and 48. Probably the outside numbers are 48 for one side and 52 for the other,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who himself is up for reelection. “It could be a tied Senate.”
That outcome would also present a new test for the relationship between Capitol Hill and the White House. The confirmation process has grown ever more partisan over the past 15 years, despite …