By the time this is posted, the new Congress will be sworn in and the leadership will be elected and seated. I am assuming the leadership will not change, even though there is a movement in the House, especially, to replace the current Speaker with someone more conservative. I am assuming John Boehner (R-OH) will survive.
The new Senate leadership will have an interesting month as they take control of the chamber. With 54 members, they still need 6 Democrats to cross over to pass filibuster proof legislation. Let’s take a look at what early legislation might look like.
The Keystone Pipeline is a piece of legislation that carries Democrat support. Harry Reid refused to allow this bill to come to a vote because the last Senate had the votes to pass it. Some of those Democrat supporters lost their seats, but they were replaced by Republicans that favor the pipeline. It will be interesting to see how much influence the White House has as the President uses all his power and persuasion to keep the Democrats from supporting the bill. This will also be a major test for the new Senate leadership. Not only will they need to keep all the Republicans in line, but they need some Democrats to vote with them to override the expected Presidential veto.
Tax cuts are also expected to be on the agenda early in the year. The Administration will oppose this rather forcefully. This will be a major fight. The Republicans believe the economy will grow faster and more with more money in the hands of the taxpayers. The Democrats believe the money is more wisely spent by government. With the philosophy differences, both sides will dig in on their positions.
Early action is expected on border security and immigration. The Republicans will introduce legislation that addresses the illegal problem but it will be far short of what the Democrats want. Look for the GOP to demand the border issue be settled first, and the rest only happens after the border is secure. Obama and his people will push for full amnesty up front and wants nothing for security.
Three foreign policy issues will lead the list. Iran has been negotiating with us for several years on their nuclear development program. So far we have reduced the sanctions against them and so far have not required them to make any cutbacks in their program. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress want to be consulted on this issue. Neither side is satisfied with the Administrations actions.
The second issue deals with ISIS, or Daesh, as they are called in the Middle East. Is the bombing campaign enough to defeat the radical Muslims? Here again, both sides of Congress want to be involved in the decision making. We have a Commander- in-Chief who calls the shots in wartime, but Congress controls the money.
Cuba is about to receive diplomatic relations with the U.S. Obama stated he negotiated with Cuba for eighteen months without informing Congress. It appears Cuba will get all sanctions lifted against the Communist state without the U.S. getting anything in return. Political prisoners were to be released, but there is no evidence Cuba has complied. Negotiations are to continue without Cuba releasing any of the political dissidents. Congress will insist on enforcing the sanctions Congress passed and earlier Administrations signed. This will cause conflict with the Administration.
The President has indicated he plans to veto any legislation that doesn’t do exactly as he wishes. Sometimes that stance is a negotiating ploy to get the other side to pass legislation closer to what the President wants. When the bills reach his desk, usually Presidents compromise and sign the bills. If Obama uses his veto pen with abandon, and fights the Republicans at every turn, we will have two more years of gridlock, and the country will continue to stand still.