There’s been a lot of speculation about what will happen in America when the new president takes office in a few weeks, but little has been written about the legislature. With the Republican party having control of two branches of government and a green light to tip the balance in the judiciary, the people in the U.S. – as well as the rest of the world – are holding their collective breath while waiting to see what the new year and new administration will bring. While much of the focus is on the presidency, state leaders will have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life. Here are a few things to look forward to when the 115th Congress convenes.
1. More work, less obstruction. The fact that, for the most part, the new Congress is in agreement with many in the new administration means that it’s likely that there will be less in-fighting and more productivity in the future.
2. Major policy changes. It’s no secret that the Republican wing of the legislature has been chomping at the bit to reverse legislative measures and Executive orders pushed through by the outgoing administration, and now it seems that the way is clear for major changes. Many of these measures have to do with tax law and restrictions on industry. Expect a repeal of the estate tax and the Dodd-Frank Act among other initiatives.
3. Full implementation of the Congressional Review Act. Since it’s inception 21 years ago, the CRA has been used only one time. The incoming Congress has plans to put it into full effect with the new administration. This act allows Congress to pass legislation with a simple majority. Previously, a ‘filibuster-proof’ 60% vote was needed to override pending legislation. The 115th Congress has a wish-list of more than 200 measures they want to overturn, including regulations of tobacco, school lunch requirements and parts of the Paris Climate Change accord.
4. New oversight on spending. The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or REINS, is a supplement to the Congressional Review Act. It was passed by the Republican-controlled House in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and has the full backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It subjects any legislative act with an economic impact greater than $100 million dollars to Congressional approval. This would mainly affect employment and environmental legislation.
5. A lot of debate on social issues. Discussion regarding major laws concerning LBGT issues and women’s health and reproductive rights will return to the forefront as the new Congress seeks to take social legislation out of the jurisdiction of the Federal government and return them to the states to decide. Those who are in favor of a less intrusive federal government may welcome these changes, while those seeking federal protection for several hot-button social problems may wonder what this shift in policy will mean for them.
Whether your congressman is a traditional conservative like Mike Crapo or a little more moderate, you can expect Crapo and other Congress men and women to reshape the political landscape in the United States for years to come. No matter your political persuasion, the next few months are going to be interesting to say the least. Stay tuned.