- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sen. Tim Kaine said Tuesday that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is currently the most powerful Democratic official in the United States and that Senate Democrats are uniquely positioned to channel the party’s discontent with President Trump.

Asked directly who the current leader of the Democratic party is, Mr. Kaine said that was “old-time thinking.”

“I think it’s old-time thinking to think you got to organize this in a pyramid with one person at the top,” Mr. Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I do think the Democrats in the Senate — they don’t give the Democrats in the House in minority many tools,” he said. “It’s just majority vote.”

“But in the Senate, we do have the tools — filibuster, cloture, we’ve got the ability to shine a spotlight on things, sometimes slow things down, sometimes stop things, and we’re going to use all those tools,” he said.

“So right now, Chuck Schumer … is the most powerful Democratic official in the United States, and he is organizing us,” Mr. Kaine said.

“But also saying we don’t need to just grab the reins away from the grassroots. This grassroots activism is not something where we feel like the base is running away from us,” he said. “We’re energized by this.”

The biggest fight going on right now in the Senate is the battle over confirming members of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet. But with Republicans holding an effective 52-48 majority, Democrats can do little more than try to delay nominees absent any GOP support.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helped lead a push in 2013 to eliminate the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster on many executive and judicial nominations, except for Supreme Court picks.

The Senate has already confirmed several nominees on bipartisan votes, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The nomination of Rex Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s pick for secretary of state, also advanced on a 56-43 vote in the Senate on Monday.

“We’re going to use our time and use the nominations going forward, especially eight key nominations, to demonstrate where we are to contravening these administration policies,” Mr. Kaine said.

“We’ll be pushing legislatively, we’ll be pushing in the courts, and we will be energized by this activism,” he said.

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