What Could Happen if the GOP Takes Over the Senate? 5 Changes You Could Expect
OK. So even if you're in any way politically inclined, you might have some inkling that Nov. 4 might be the date the GOP takes control of the Senate? But what's the big deal? Well, first of all, since the Grand Old Party took control of the House of Representatives back in 2010, bipartisan voting and increasing extremist rhetoric have plagued the House, and in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell infamously said in 2010 that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Not quite the most supportive attitude to have, huh?
Right now, with the Republicans controlling the House of Reps and the Democrats the Senate, we've only seen exacerbated partisanship in domestic politics in the past few years, as you can see above. In fact, this Congress has been touted as the "least productive Congress in history." But come the midterm elections, there could be a very different political landscape in D.C. — or, maybe not that different at all? We've heard all the hoopla about the Republicans taking over the Senate, but really, what could happen if we had a GOP-led Congress?
Immigration Reform Goes... Somewhere?
It's pretty common knowledge that the Republicans aren't hot on immigration reform, opting instead to further secure the border and enforce tighter immigration laws on over 11 million undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. to seek a better life.
President Obama has indicated taking executive action on immigration reform after the midterm elections, to the ire of many in the GOP. The House has passed a bill that would overrule that, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blocked it from entering the Senate.
Should the GOP take over the Senate, the bill would most likely be passed there, too. But Obama has veto power, and even a GOP-led Senate wouldn't be able to summon enough votes to override it — which means, some kind of real immigration reform might happen, after all?
Suing The President
In July, the House of Representatives, led by an ever-grumpy John Boehner, voted to sue Obama for exceeding his executive authority. The move was quickly and subsequently ridiculed for what critics called "a humiliating failure" on the Republicans' part.
Although they might not attempt to do so again anytime soon, control over the Senate will possibly give them more authority and/or manpower behind a lawsuit against the president.
Impeaching The President
Yup, some Republicans have tried this before, too. Mike Huckabee, who was a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, recently said that Obama had done "plenty of things worthy of impeachment," but since Republicans "don't have the Senate," it wouldn't work.
So if the GOP takes over the Senate, which is very likely, maybe some of them might give it another go. The Washington Post has compiled a super useful scorecard of Republicans who want to impeach the president, so you can look out for these rockstars in the next two years. Check it out! (Spoiler: Michele Bachmann makes an appearance, and — surprise, surprise — she is all for the impeachment.)
Even More Political Gridlock
It's really no secret that people have a pretty disgruntled view of politics, especially in light of the current political climate. Two months ago, a Gallup poll showed that only 14 percent of Americans approved of the job that Congress was doing — the lowest that Gallup has measured in the fall before a midterm election since 1974.
A GOP-led Senate would cause even more political gridlock and inefficiency, as a Republican-controlled Congress would go even harder in a head-to-head with a Democratic President.
Issues that could pass a Senate controlled by Republicans are: defunding Planned Parenthood (goodbye women's reproductive rights), repealing Obamacare (goodbye relatively comprehensive healthcare), approving the entitlement-slashing House budget plan (goodbye healthcare again and goodbye social programs that help lower-income families and individuals — goddammit Paul Ryan!), restricting the Environmental Protection Agency (goodbye laws that protect the environment and educate people about climate change; hello more disastrous Gulf of Mexico-esque oil spills).
Now, it's highly unlikely that Obama would let any of these pass into law, inevitably resulting in an even more rancid stalemate than ever. The one thing you can count on is that his last two years as president will be even more exasperating, baffling, and defensive than before.
As president, Obama has the power to nominate federal judges who mostly share his ideology, but the Senate has the power to veto said nominees should they be considered too inadequate or radical.
Right now, because Senate Democrats are a majority in the House, Obama can appoint staff and nominate judges with the safe knowledge that they'll have his back. But if Republicans wrest control over the Senate from Democrats, rest assured that they can and most definitely will block his appointments.
Obama has made major contributions to the judiciary in his presidency so far, having put two Supreme Court justices, 53 appeals court judges, and 223 trial court judges, all with lifetime tenure, in federal courts.
Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo quoted Randy Barnett, a conservative legal scholar and law professor, saying Obama's impact on the judiciary has been "huge," and weighing in on the probable Republican takeover of the Senate,
My guess is Obama would have to present nominees that are much much more acceptable to Republicans, or they won't even schedule hearings.
The effect of a Republican Senate will be most felt in the judicial courts, where appointments — leaning liberal or conservative — will result in important federal court decisions for decades, and shape the mold of American society for generations to come, making judicial appointments the most important thing to look out for with a Republican Senate.
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