Looking Ahead to the 114th Congress
By Stephen A. Borg
After a game-changing election in November, it appears we are in for quite an adventurous 114th Session of Congress. The 114th Session of Congress will span 2015 and 2016, covering the last two years of President Obama’s term. It will likely be full of numerous legislative battles. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a little background on what is changing in the 114th Congress, and the likely effects it will have on the legislative and regulatory front.
The biggest change to the 114th Congress will be the switch in control of the Senate from a Democrat majority to a Republican majority. As most political operatives and observers expected, the Republican Party won a majority of seats in the 2014 election and will now control the Senate for at least the next two years. This outcome is a switch as both Houses of Congress will now be controlled by Republicans. At the time of this article, the Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate and the Democrats hold 46 seats, with a run-off election occurring in Louisiana on Dec. 6, 2014, to conclude the last remaining seat.
While this will, no doubt, cause a massive shift in the types of legislation and issues that the Senate will pursue, the Republican Party will not have carte blanche authority, needing six or seven Democrats to join them to get to the 60 votes needed to block filibusters and move legislation forward. This will, in turn, cause major legislative endeavors in the Senate to have to be crafted with bipartisan compromise and input from both sides of the aisle.
Compare that with the House of Representatives, where the November election gave the Republican Party its biggest majority in decades, and the 114th Congress may be setting itself up for a collision course on major legislative packages. Conservatives in the House of Representatives are amped up to continue their crusades against the Affordable Care Act; against major regulations that the Administration will continue to pursue over the next two years; and in favor of major overhauls of the tax code and the federal budget.
While these efforts will likely fly out of the House of Representatives with massive vote margins, they will be sending these initiatives to the Republican Senate, where they will need to find six to seven Democrats to support any package. This will likely be an ongoing struggle between the House and Senate, and this is before you even get President Obama involved with his veto pen and executive authority.
One of the biggest issues that will likely have an enormous impact on the legislative landscape of the 114th Congress, and at the time of writing this article is potentially being pursued by President Obama in the coming days, is the issue of immigration reform. If the President decides to pursue executive orders that will delay deportations or drastically alter the current immigration policies, Republicans in both Houses of Congress will likely declare all-out war on the President and use every tool in their toolbox to delay or stop his priorities and initiatives. This will cascade down and affect almost every piece of legislation in Congress and create an even harder climate for Senate Republicans to gain bipartisan support on large legislative initiatives such as tax reform, budget reform, and their own package of immigration reforms.
With all this being said, the MCAA will continue its efforts to impact the legislative landscape and help shape legislation that will have a positive impact on our industry and the construction industry as a whole. With the likelihood that most legislative packages will have to be bipartisan in some nature, it is even more imperative that MCAA members, like you, are involved in this process and contacting your Members of Congress.
Take the time to contact the MCAA, 800-536-2225 or www.masoncontractors.org, to learn more about our top priorities. Watch for information on the “How to Talk to Your Elected Officials” webinar, occurring in April 2015. For MCAA to have an impact in the 114th Congress, we will need all of you involved and fighting for policies that will boost and protect our industry.
Stephen A. Borg is VP of The Keelen Group, www.keelengroup.com.