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Healing the Chamber

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Tired of the procedures of the Senate, Susan Collins left the floor and headed to her office. She remains very disappointed that she could not secure the life support that the filibuster was on. Sure, she was determined to speak again on the floor – she had prepared a long speech to convince her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to protect the integrity of the filibuster - but there was no guarantee they would agree.

Frustrated, she called on her closest ally, Mark Warner. They have been working on a radical proposal for months, but they weren’t prepared to publicise the plan just yet. But Susan felt like she had no choice. If she waits for any more days, the Senate could die forever. She couldn’t even get a second Republican senator to assure her that he or she would vote against the rule change. The closest she could get is John McCain’s public statement that anyone trying to remove the filibuster on the Supreme Court is a ‘stupid idiot’. But who knows, she said. He has a history of saying maverick things on the media, and then voting with the GOP leadership. ‘He’s afraid of primary challenges’, she thought, something that she never had to care in her own case. She was too popular she could wage an independent candidacy whenever she thought her primary election would be vulnerable and still sail safely to reelection.

Susan was finally woken up from her thought with a knock on the door. ‘Come in’, she said, as a tall, handsome man steps in. It was Virginia Senator Mark Warner. He, a self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, decided to vote against cloture, but he wasn’t going to join that filibuster. He had been working with Susan Collins on a proposal that could change the Senate forever, but only if they could muster sufficient support from both sides of the aisle, and so far they have only been able to secure one senator’s support.
- Why did you call me? – he started
- I have prepared a lengthy speech to defend the filibuster in the Senate. I hope we can prevent that rule change.
- I will definitely vote against that rule change. It’s a disgrace.
- I mean, I support Judge Gorsuch personally, but we can’t let one candidacy of another branch ruin this Senate, this part of our legislative branch. What the hell are Schumer and McConnell thinking?
- Pandering to their vocal extremist bases?
- *sighs* We’re tired of that aren’t we. We both had to deal with that so many times.
- But if we can ever try to defend the filibuster, we need another Republican senator to support us.
- But who?
- We can try convincing John McCain again, and go ask Lisa Murkowski. She waged a successful write-in reelection campaign in 2010. She’s not going to be intimidated as easily as the others.
- I hope so.

Warner reviews the documents on Gorsuch and the documents on the proposal that Collins have on the desk. They have prepared so well for this, he thought to himself, but why does it have to be this moment? He didn’t know if it would go well, and especially, how down south their political careers would go with this proposal if it failed. He had secured support from certain donors and grassroots organisations, but he was careful not to let the deal leak. It was not supposed to. Leaking it would ruin everything, regardless of how careful they crafted their plans. They were so careful they decided not to show any other senator the details – save for one, Angus King, Collins’s Maine colleague, self-proclaimed radical centrist.

But Collins was thinking about something else too. Her eyes traced the lines that defined the man’s face, following his shiny, straight, neatly arranged hair strands. How handsome he is, she thought to herself. They’ve been working together in this chamber for years, yet she somehow hasn’t ever thought about him and his beautiful face.
- What are you thinking, Susan? – remarked Warner, sensing that Collins was distracted. Collins shook her head in denial.
- When the hearing begins, before McConnell files cloture, I will come to the floor. Is that good?
- I’m not really sure. He might file for cloture very early, interrupting your speech in the process. Just come to the floor the previous day to be safe. Then I can help you prepare another speech to reiterate your position on Thursday.
- Do you think we can actually save this place?
- I’m not sure, but we’ll fight to the death for it. Otherwise, I’m never going to see my constituents again.
Collins and Warner fist bumped. It felt a bit weird for them, since in their days of youth nobody did it, and neither of them has done it ever before, but whatever.
- Uh, I think we have to go now, Susan.
- Yeah. let’s get back to the floor.
As Warner prepared to leave, Collins suddenly burst out:
- Hey, wait, Mark. We need to find a time to announce our proposal.
- I don’t know. Maybe we can do it after this partisan shit show is over. We need to fight the radicals first.
- Agreed.

Warner finally stepped out of the room, and Collins prepared herself for the ensuing floor fight.