Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The First Day of School

Today at noon in Washington DC the 114th congress will open with a bang, literally. The session will be called to order with the speaker’s gavel calling for order. There might be bangs  in other places to.

The Republicans are in control now. Rather than the Divided Congress of the 113th’s “do nothing” session, the Republicans now control both houses. There are around ninety congress people who will not be returning to the capitol this year. Voted out or retiring, their places will be taken by newer, younger members. The median age for the new members has dropped in the senate alone by more than fifteen years.
The New Class of 2015 is already arriving in the capitol, receiving their offices, hiring their staff, meeting the press, setting up their websites, probably practicing their smiling and trying to sound “all congressional” now that they have finally made it to the top.
The races across the country were sometimes close, often times bitter. And now that the “newbies” are in, the fighting is not yet done. There are Republicans who do not like the leadership, under Boehner, the current Republican Speaker of the House. They see him as too weak.
Boehner won reelection, and is expected to also be the Speaker of the House again. The Republicans who are planning to keep him from that spot would need to be more than twenty to even drive the vote to a second ballot, which has not happened since 1923, when on the ninth the ballot the then Speaker of the House won reelection anyway. There is a grand total of nine right now, and one of them is named Yoho, so that bang might be a bit more a clicking sound coming from somewhere in the back row of benches.
But after everyone finds their seats, gets sworn in, the applause dies down and the good feelings dissipate, (did I mention, Christmas is over), the arguing will begin. Of course, no matter what is passed by the Republicans in congress, it will have to be sent over to the White House, where in the oval office sits the Democrats last best hope, a president that more people disapprove of than approve. Obama will have to sign the bill. And there are not enough Republicans to overturn a veto.
So, if the Right Wing is planning massive frontal attacks on Healthcare, unbalanced Budgets, and other Democrat Dragons-and Mitch McConnell, the man expected to be the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, when all the smoke clears, has said he would like to finally confirm the Keystone Pipeline-if all of that is to get done, there will have to be some amount of bipartisanship.
Speaking of confirmation, there are also a hoard of Presidential Nominees that need to be confirmed-or rejected, as the case may be.
And as for some members of congress, mostly those that were part of the class of 2012 or before, there are quite a few who may have mistaken that bang of the gavel to start congress as the gun to start the 2016 race.
Iowa will suddenly become a prime tourist spot for those with presidential ambitions, as they attempt to woo voters, convince potential donors, and remind everyone how generally awesome they are.
The Republican leadership of congress, (none of whom, apparently, have any ambitions for the White House themselves) will have to work with many young, and some not so young ambitious members who think they have a chance at becoming president, and do not want to ruin it.
They will have to convince them, (think Rubio, Paul, etc.) not only to play ball, but also to work together in the days ahead to get everything done that is on the leaders’ agendas.
As for the Democrats, they are not playing possum. The president has gotten back from Hawaii, and on the 20th will be giving the State of the Union Address, but even before then, he will be reaching out to the people on a three-city tour. And he also appears to still have the executive action pen very much sharpened and dipped in ink.
The Republican Plans appear to have a few bangs in them as we open up 2015, but overall, the biggest bang may simply be that they are back. The numbers are good for a Republican President in 2016, so they are eager no to mess it up.
So in a way, the race has sort of already begun. If the Republican act irresponsibly or make terrible mistakes, people may not want to put a president of the same part in the oval office. On the other hand, if they behave themselves, do what they said they would do, people might think that if a Republican Congress was so good, a Republican President would be even better.
But all of that is for the future to decide. All of the oaths are not done yet, the vows not even all said. So for right now, in a moment of peace and relative tranquility in Washington, the first day in power as the 114th Congress of the United States begins.

Andrew C. Abbott

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