Chairman Dave Camp to Retire
After introducing a plan to reform the tax code earlier this year, the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, has announced that he will retire after this Congress. Representative Camp’s term as The House Republican Conference places term limits on their Chairmanships, and Representative Camp’s is set to expire at the end of this Congress as well. Camp came to Congress in 1990. He said he would continue working on tax reform until the end of this Congress.
Republican Revolution Turns Twenty
The Republican Revolution is 20 years old this year. It was the political force that rocked Congress and the nation by depriving the Democrats of their 40-year majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their first few years in power saw a number of important events in contemporary American politics: the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, the first balanced budgets in years, welfare reform, and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The Republicans have also managed to hold control of the Chamber for 16 of the past 20 years, and seem poised to do so for a number of years to come. Only 16 of the 73 who were elected in 1994 are currently in Congress, and next year no more than 10 will be.
The Senate See-Saw
Although it’s not a sure bet, it’s pretty good money wagering that the Republicans will win the Senate in 2014. But then there is 2016, when, in the estimation of the most respectable Charlie Cook, the Democrats stand a good chance of winning. But then there are the 2018 elections, when he says the Republicans may well have their day. In other words, the Upper Chamber looks like it will be up for grabs for the time being. “By a quirk of fate, we may be in for some pretty turbulent Senate elections, not only this November but in 2016 and 2018 as well. Majority status could resemble a rubber band as much as anything else”, Cook writes. Basically, every two years, one party has to defend more incumbents than the other. Coincidentally, when a party must defend more seats, the opposition typically fares better in turnout, because Republicans have more success in midterm years and Democrat do better in Presidential election years. “In a weirdly coincidental way, midterm-versus-presidential turnout dynamics are synchronized with exaggerated partisan Senate exposure to create the potential for a whip-sawing Senate picture, one that would at least suggest that neither party is likely to build anything remotely resembling outright control of the upper chamber—just narrow majorities”, Cook writes. The upshot of this is that we’ll be in for some heavy-duty partisanship in the years to come.
Envisioning a Republican Senate
If the Republicans do take the Senate this year, they will be limited because the President’s veto pen, right? Right, but that will only go so far. Bloomberg View columnist Albert R. Hunt takes a look at what the next two years might look like with a Republican-controlled Senate. The Republicans could use the reconciliation process to change parts of Obamacare. Fiscal negotiations would favor them more heavily. They could halt the confirmation process. They could exercise much influence over foreign policy, especially concerning Iranian sanctions. They could use the oversight process to investigate Executive Branch actions. The Republicans won’t have the White House, but they will still be potent indeed.
Graying Congress Reflects Graying America
Every so often, you hear complaints about the age of Members of Congress. This might not be surprising since the average age in the Senate is 62 and in the House it is 57, meaning there are plenty of Members that are in their late 60s or their 70s or 80s. There is even a 101-year-old man running in Florida. Although some might sneer at the thought of the average age of Congress rising, they might want to look for some gray hairs in the mirror: The median age of the population in general is rising, too, and the difference between average age of Congress and the general public is just about as small as it has ever been.
And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate