Wednesday, November 03, 2010

GOP Takes Control Of House; Senate Dems Retain Control

Nov 3: Big changes will be taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives next year as a result of the Republican sweep to power in yesterday's election. Unofficially, Republican's will have something on the order of a 242-193 majority in the House. One of the first big changes will be in the House Committee makeup and Chairmanships. 
    Next year, Representative John Boehner (R-OH) will assume the office of Speaker of the House, replacing the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Speaker-elect Boehner will be pursuing the House Republicans "A Pledge to America," release on September 23 [See WIMS 9/23/10]. Among other items, the Pledge indicates, "In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent. An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down longstanding laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people. An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many. Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose. . ."
    Among other items the 48-page Pledge details, Republicans say: "We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national 'cap and trade' energy tax. . . The constant threat of new taxes and new regulations prevents investors and entrepreneurs from putting capital at risk. These private sector employers must be given the certainty that if they take a risk to expand their company or hire a new employee, Washington won't yank the rug from under their feet. . . Excessive federal regulation is a de facto tax on employers and consumers that stifles job creation, hampers innovation and postpones investment in the economy. . ."
    Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) will likely assume the leadership of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, replacing Chair Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA). Representative Barton who previously Chaired the Committee and is currently the Ranking Member, was nearly stripped of his Committee assignments for his widely publicized public apology to BP and his comments about being "ashamed" of the $20 billion oil spill claims fund agreement which the White House negotiated with BP. In comments before the Committee, Barton apologized to BP and called the agreement a "shakedown." [See WIMS 6/18/10].
    Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) will likely assume the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Environment and Energy Subcommittee, currently Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA). On October 20, Representative Upton authored a lengthy op-ed in the Washington Times entitled, "Declaring War on the Regulatory State." [See WIMS 10/20/10]. Rep. Upton said Republicans would terminate what he called the "wasteful" Select Committee on Climate Change, established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and also Chaired by Rep. Markey. He said the Committee "has needlessly spent nearly $8 million in taxpayer money. . . "
    Rep. Upton also said the "EPA is working on a regulatory train wreck that includes the following job-killing regulations." He specifically listed: Cooling water intake systems for power plants; Coal ash regulations; Industrial and commercial boilers; and Revised ozone standards. He said, "No significant regulation should take effect until Congress has voted to approve it and the president has had an opportunity to approve or veto congressional action."
    Unofficially, other major House Committee changes will likely include: House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, now Chaired by Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY) will go to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); the House Science & Technology Committee, now Chaired by Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN) (did not run for reelection) will likely go to Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX); House Transportation &  Infrastructure Committee, now Chaired by Representative James Oberstar (D-MN), who was defeated in the election, will likely go to Rep. John Mica (R-FL); and the House Committee on Natural Resources, now Chaired by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) will likely go to Rep. Doc  Hastings (R-WA).
    In the U.S. Senate, changes will be less dramatic as Democrats narrowly retain control with 49 Democrats, 2 Independents that caucus with the Democrats, and 46 Republicans. Senate races in Arkansas, Alaska and Colorado still undecided in close races. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) retained his Nevada Senate seat in a highly publicized race against his Republican opponent Sharon Angle. In the close race, Senator Reid managed to win 50% of the vote as opposed to Angle's 45%. It is generally assumed that Committee chairmanships will remain the same. Senate floor votes will remain contentious with the ability to achieve cloture votes of 60 even more difficult than before.
    In a lengthy statement and news conference on the election results President Obama specifically mentioned energy alternatives and an alternatives to cap-and-trade as probable areas where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground. Specifically he said that cap and trade was a "means to an end" not the only means. He said it was only one way to "skin a cat."
    Access the CNN election website for results by the U.S., states, and local districts (click here). Access a link to the President's comments which should be posted soon (click here).