- Written by Leonora Cravotta
If the current poll numbers are correct then "we are just five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States Senate", and Majority Leader Harry Reid can have his walking papers, and take his anger and brand of politics with him. Assuming, this comes to pass, what will the major changes be?
- 1. The Senate will return to a 60 vote threshold versus the simple majority that Harry Reid imposed with his “Nuclear Option” last November. This will have an impact on the confirmation of executive office appointments and federal judicial nominees.
2. The confirmation process for Obama’s nominees will be more difficult. A GOP controlled Senate coupled with the return to the 6o vote threshold will make it more difficult for far left candidates to sail through the confirmation process. Probably the most anticipated appointment is the replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder. Now that Obama has delayed the appointment until after the election, he is now challenged to select a candidate who will be acceptable by both sides of the aisle. Leading potential candidates such as Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch will face greater scrutiny than they would have had the confirmation hearings taken place before the election. After all, Mr. Verrilli made a name for himself when he defended the Affordable Care Act. Secretary Perez recently received some criticism from the GOP for his comments that amnesty to illegal immigrants is “a crucial piece of the puzzle for the President’s vision of shared prosperity”.
3. There will be far more Senate investigations and hearings. There were a number of domestic and foreign policy matters which Republicans have pinpointed as warranting more investigation. Under a GOP controlled Senate, expect to see requests to open additional investigations into Fast & Furious, the Bowe Bergdahl trade, Benghazi etc.
4. Executive Amnesty for illegal immigrants will be blocked. Obama’s plan to implement Executive Amnesty with a phone and a pen will face much greater opposition under a GOP controlled Senate which favors strong border control.
5. Paul Ryan’s House Budget Plan, The Path to Prosperity will be approved. Ryan’s plan which eliminates many entitlement programs will be celebrated by the right and skewered by the left.
6. Obama Care may be wholly or partially repealed. Perhaps the most controversial and most talked about Obama stamped effort, the Affordable Care Act, will certainly come under even greater scrutiny from a Republican controlled Senate. This is especially true in light of the recent Senate Budget Committee study which revealed that Obamacare will increase the national debt by about $131 billion over the next 10 years, instead of reducing the debt as President Barack Obama and other Democrats have argued.
7. A new resolution for force against the Islamic state will be drafted. While we finally have “Operation Inherent Resolve”, many Republicans feel that this effort is not sufficient. Expect pressure from a GOP Senate for a more coordinated military event.
8. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be severely restricted. Created by President Nixon, a Republican, this agency has come under scrutiny from the GOP. Most recently, Republicans in both the Senate and House were threatening to withhold funding over the EPA’s proposed regulations on coal power plants.
9. Comprehensive tax reform will be implemented. While Republicans have been calling for tax reform for years, it is unlikely that both individual and corporate tax reform would be implemented in the same year. Tax policy experts predict that we are more likely to see efforts towards corporate tax reform before we see individual tax reform. This is obviously in reaction to recent corporate inversions.
10. The Keystone Pipeline will be approved. Under a GOP controlled senate the $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries stands a better chance for passing than under the current Senate. The pipeline might be a stand-alone measure or attached to must-pass legislation such as a government spending or transportation bill.
** Of course this is just the short list. We still have 352 bills sitting on Harry Reid’s desk.