Friday, October 22, 2010

Is anything going to change after the election? Yes! Let me tell you.

So it is a foregone conclusion that the Democrats are going to lose the majority in the House of Representatives, but most likely will not lose the majority in the Senate. What does this mean to us and what effect that will have on legislation? I’ll tell you.

You see Republicans and Tea Party advocates believe they will reign in government spending and shrink the size of government, as a result of their victory, and that is what they are selling voters, as to why they should be elected. In fact, that will be far from the reality of what will happen after the election. Let me paint a real possibility of what is possible after this election.

First, there will be a lame duck Congress, as many Democrats will lose their seats, but, and this is the real interesting bit of news, they will feel they have one last chance to pass legislation before Republicans take control in January after they are sworn in. As of October 5th, here is a headline worth your attention: “Frustrated House still waiting for Senate action on 420 bills. Do you think that this fact is irrelevant because they lost the majority? Think again!

You see these bills are awaiting approval by the Senate, which still will be controlled by the Senate and that will still be controlled by the Democrats if projections hold for them holding on to the majority in the Senate.

Do you have any idea what those Bills contain? Let me give you a small sample:
- At the top of the list was the June 2009 cap-and-trade energy and climate bill, which passed the House by a slim margin but never made it to the Senate floor.
- Measures to audit the claims fund set up by BP after the Gulf oil spill and legislation to increase screening for diabetes.
- House leaders drew a line in the sand on holding a House vote on tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, saying the Senate would have to act first. When the Senate decided to punt the issue until after the elections, the House followed suit, despite protests from liberal members who wanted to cast their vote to extend middle-class tax cuts before they left for the campaign trail.

- The ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ (H.R. 12) that was one of the first pieces of legislation approved in the House when the new Congress convened in 2009. It won by a vote of 256 to 163. According to sponsor Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., it will help promote pay equity for women.
But with the post-election lame duck session packed with priorities, like debating the so-called Bush tax cuts, many of the bills passed in the House will simply disappear into the history books. They don’t carry over from one Congress to another and sponsors of these hundreds of measures must introduce them once again. So there will be a lot of pressure to get some of these passed in the Lame duck session between November and January.

If after the election, the Democrats in the Senate have the courage, and this would clearly take courage, they could change the “Filibuster” Senate rule to allow for 56, 55 or as low as 53 votes to move some legislation. The Republicans threatened to do this when they were in power, under the George W. Bush Administration and Senator Bill Frist was the majority leader in the Senate. Also, I believe I had heard that Reid has also considered this move.

So this will be an interesting 3 months ahead. I would expect some new tactics to be used in the Senate to overcome the gridlock. And don’t forget, if Harry Reid gets reelected he won’t be worrying much about what Republicans think, as this most likely will be his last Senate term as he would then be 77 years old when up for reelection. Interesting times indeed!

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