Editorial: New normal yet to arrive, but welcomed

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 10:42 PM

Harry Reid’s comment was optimistic, pointed in the right direction and would hold meaning if it were true.

“We have now started a new era, I hope, a new normal here in the Senate,” Reid said last week. He was referring to bipartisan cooperation.

His words came after senators agreed to one deal in exchange for finalizing another. That’s really the bottom line for Democrats, who hold the advantage, not changing the filibuster rules on Republicans, and Republicans therefore agreeing to confirm President Obama’s delayed nominees to his Cabinet.

The president even chipped in by yanking two the GOP opposed.

Normal in politics, as the Democratic senator from Nevada well knows, is one lawmaker helping another lawmaker when it comes to the wish list of each. It doesn’t always mean what is best for the people they serve.

Just listen to the Raleigh chatter this week of items tacked onto the budget so lawmakers can quickly end the session and bid adieu until January.

As for bipartisan cooperation in Washington, we’d prefer it but we’ve not seen enough to believe it. The vote on Tom Perez as the new labor secretary is startling. Published reports connected to the Senate historian put Perez as the first Cabinet nominee ever confirmed on a strictly party-line vote.

That would make it the polar opposite of bipartisan cooperation.

Granted, Perez is arguably the toughest sell of those delayed. Democrats hail his work in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, fighting for minority rights and against discrimination, and being a tireless public servant particularly for the middle class. Republicans, who have disdain for the Civil Rights Division with or without Perez, questioned his handling of a whistle-blower case and refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena.

If Perez did use his personal email account to skirt transparency laws, and has released non-public information as accused, we can’t blame GOP senators. Those are legitimate questions that should be answered, particularly by a Cabinet member.

And Republicans, already struggling with the Hispanic vote and immigration, will be reminded of their stance against the only Latino Cabinet nomination in the 2014 elections.

New normal? We’ll keep looking and hope to see it soon.