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GOP Takes House, Dems Keep the Senate. What's It All Mean for Life Under the Dome?

November 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

For today’s updates, surf along with our micropublishing account. Man there is some good content there this morning… a WSJ profile of Rep. Boehner, a Politifact take-down of misinformation that circulates via viral e-mails, pleasantly substantive political analysis of this past session of Congress from Ezra Klein at the WaPo, always more...

From yesterday: Election results are still rolling in, and we still don’t know about some of the most important races, like the one between the current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle (update 10 am ET 11-03-10, NYT called it for Reid indeed), but we do know this: The Republicans will take the House and the Democrats will keep the Senate. This is pretty much as expected by the pollsters, but it’s a better result for Obama and the Democrats than what happened to the Clinton Administration in 1994, which many pundits have tried to compare this too.

The next session of Congress will be the first session with the chambers split between the Democrats and the Republicans since 1985. During that session, the 99th, which took place during the fifth and sixth years of the Reagan Administration, the President’s party (Republicans) held the Senate with 53 seats and the opposition party (Democrats) held the House with 253 seats. The final numbers aren’t in tonight, but it looks like the make up of the next session of Congress could be very similar to the 99th.

Lame Duck

So, first off, what do tonight’s results mean for the lame duck session that the current session of Congress is planning to convene in mid-November? Depending on the results of the Senate race in Illinois (as I write this the Republican candidate is ahead), the Democrats may actually be down by a vote when they reconvene. There were four “special elections” tonight in which the winners would be seated immediately following the election results — West Virginia, New York, Delaware and Illinois. Right now, we know that the Dems will be holding seats in West Virginia, New York, Delaware. Illinois is up in the air.

Regardless, Republicans will be going into the lame duck session believing they have a mandate from voters to oppose the Obama/Democratic agenda. The Democrats, meanwhile, are going to be shell-shocked and heading into the lame-duck  session wanting to go home and regroup as soon as possible. I think it’s safe to bet that only the bare minimum of what has to be get done in the lame duck is actually going to get done. That probably includes doing something with the expiring Bush tax cuts (Republicans will feel like voters told them to stand strong on extending the cuts for all income levels), dealing with the expiring unemployment insurance benefits (Republicans will probably oppose this even more than have in the past; its’ going to be very hard for Dems to get this done), and funding the government through the end of the year.

Given tonight’s results, I wouldn’t expect anybody in Congress to be in the mood to work on immigration, renewable energy, or any of the other items that the Democrats have unofficially punted to the lame duck session.

Next Year

As Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] has already admitted, the next session of Congress is going to be all about politicking for the presidential race in 2012. Obviously, there are some incredibly important economic and environmental issues facing the country right now. But the  political dynamics of the split session of Congress just isn’t going to allow for any of that to be addressed. They only things we can really expect to see are the action taht the chambers can take independent of the other — a defunding of health care reform led by the House (possibly leading to a government-wide shutdown), investigations of the Obama Administrations (maybe even including an impeachment hearing), and a movement form the Senate to oppose any legislation put forth by the Republican House.

At this point, I’d say the few potential issues with bipartisan appeal that could get done in the next session include: improving the nation’s food safety system, creating a new federal cybersecurity infrastructure, expanding offshore drilling, dealing with the China currency issue, and probably a few other marginal issues. Another big question is going to be if the parties can come together on structural reforms like revising the filibuster rules in the Senate or changing the way federal campaigns are financed. I’m not banking on any progress on these issues, but they really are the wild cards in all this. They’re not necessarily partisan issues, they have broad appeal with voters, and they would forever change the way Congress (an institution with a 10% public approval rating) works.

Pictured above is Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8], who is expected to be Speaker of the House in the next session of Congress.

Late Update: Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] will keep his seat, but Dems lose to GOP in PA and IL Senate races. It’s looking the Dems will hold a 52 or 53-seat Senate majority in the next session of Congress.

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  • DeborahJBrown 11/03/2010 4:37am

    The article started out on a positive note but ended on a very sad note. From the sounds of it we can expect nothing positive at all. The broken government will remain broken and the focus will remain on political antics and more wasting of inordinate amounts of time, energy and resources — something this country does not have — on investigations while threatening initiation of the impeachment process rather than addressing American economic survival. Well, why not – this seems to be the only way the Republicans will be able to effectively divert attention between now and 2012 elections away from the fact that in spite of gaining a greater level of control they are not resolving any of the economic crisis issues. For sure, the campaigning begins NOW.

  • seanurse 11/03/2010 9:43am

    well by these results in the election i can only conclude that all of the unemployed and friends and family that were blogging on this site didn’t bother to get out and vote or our goverment fixed the voting. i am totally down about this election. Noone cares about peoples lives anymore. its every man for himself. sad place to be living in. It used to be that the usa was somthing to cheer about. I can’t cheer when i have nothing left. been a 99er for 4 weeks and totally left with nothing!!!!not even family can help. I truely give up!!!! god help us all.

  • Comm_reply
    TheDutchess 11/03/2010 9:54am

    You should hold your head up high because you know you did the right thing as did I. I’ve been a 99er since September and I’m telling you, you have to take what you want. I went to sign up for Food Stamps on Monday so I’m waiting to hear back from them. They want me to be ready to work or either go get additional training. I say “Bring it On”. I’m already in school finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree and if they want to pay for additional training like Oracle or other computer programs, Give It To Me! I am going to juice them for all that it’s worth while it’s there. Come next year, everything will be different. Get up and get help. Get whatever you can without paying for it and that will make you much stronger for your next job opportunity.

  • Comm_reply
    comments11660 11/04/2010 5:35am

    Seanurse I am adding you to my prayer list of individuals who are in dire need and outside of my aid. I believe this economic crisis was engineered in order to annihilate our Republic as we have known it these past 200 plus years. There is a video at youtube “The Secret of Oz” which can better explain this history of how our economy got where it is today. Also, there is another video free at youtube called “Fall of the Republic” produced by Alex Jones, excellent video.

  • Comm_reply
    comments11660 11/04/2010 5:36am

    seanurse pt 2: The reason I recommend these two videos is to let you see where hope could lie if Americans eyes could be opened to the fact this is not a Republican/Democrat issue nor is it even a corporatocracy issue. Please pass this information along as it could fix the economy overnight if we can get Congress to listen. There is hope. Also, you can request personal prayer at, all prayer requests listed in the comments section at the bottom of the page are taken seriously and prayed over for free. They also accept prayer requests via email to this is not a financial solicitation of any sort just people trying to encourage others in need.

  • TheDutchess 11/03/2010 9:45am

    Thanks to the Fair Weather Democrats and the non voters. I want to say thank you, to all of you fair weather voters that only stick with you when times are good, but fold and walk when times are tough. Don’t complain next year when:
    Your Grandma lose their social security checks next year because the Republicans will want to get rid of all government entitlement
    Your kids are ready to go to college and they can’t get grants and scholarships
    They get rid of the minimum wage
    They shut down all unemployment benefits for good
    They repeal the Healthcare Reform so your child with Leukemia or Cancer can’t get insured because they have a pre-existing condition
    They stop women from getting free mammograms
    They prevent your daughter from getting an abortion after your best friend, who has AIDS rapes her and gets her pregnant. Good Luck with That…
    No complaining next year. You’ll be fine. You’ll learn like hell how to make lemonade out of plenty of lemons.

  • Comm_reply
    LucasFoxx 11/05/2010 9:31am

    I don’t think any of that will get a vote in the Senate. They certianly would get vetoed by the Pres. But the conseravtives did campaign on those issues. They will most likely waste the next 2 years pushing them without compromise, if the new leadership is to be believed. Welcome to gridlock. Good luck to us all.

  • TheDutchess 11/03/2010 9:46am

    They have to cut somewhere. Guess where they will start? With everything that matters to you… Well, you did the right thing. You got what you wanted. Let’s see how far it will get you.

  • Rationalview 11/04/2010 3:25am

    In NJ everyone raves about Christie – I can’t understand how people can be fooled into thinking that his policy of cutting state spending and taxes will help the everyday person – I can’t understand it because the expenses are still there, you just have to find another way to pay for them. If towns lose state aid for schools, the schools are not and should not go away – but the residents of that town (who are also state citizens) will have to pick up the slack. So, maybe the Gov comes out a hero on a state level but what happens to the kids? How is that a solution? Same truth holds for federal level. Somehow the money has to be found – it will just be labeled something else. And why is Palin still in the public eye? She abandoned Alaska and is still considered a winner – what happens if she does become president – will she serve a full term or will her vice president be the person we are really voting for???

  • tomjw 11/16/2010 5:50am

    I think that all of the congressmen and senators , whether from the federal or state level should only have 2 year terms . And only be allowed to be in office for a maximum of 3 terms. This would make them fear for their jobs like the rest of Americans do ! It would also make them do what their constituents put them in office to do , not what their party directs them to do ! These career polititions are the downfall of America ! Just watch how they will screw things up now , just like little children who don’t want to play nice with each other . Who should run this country , egotistical polititions or the American People ? Lets get together America , and make the rules for them to follow . Are we sheep , constantly being let to the slaughter house , or are we human beings in control of our own destiny ?

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