Massachusetts Senate Race Over: What's Next For the Democrats?
The Massachusetts Senate Race is over with Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy's Senate seat over Democrat Martha Coackley and for many this result spelled the end of Obama's health care reform. So what is next for the Democrats?
Most agree that Brown's win is catastrophic for the health care reform as it means that the 60-vote Democrat majority is over, but Politico took a look at what may still get through with some Republican votes - matters such as an energy bill of some form, financial reform and some kind of deficit reduction package.
There are five major agenda items still on the table to discuss, and some decision will have to be made regarding these topics; the outcome is perhaps just a little less certain now.
- Financial reform
- Deficit reduction
- Cap and trade
- Terrorism and national security
1. Financial reform: This should be a slam dunk for Democrats, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find some Republican support for cracking down on the industry that caused the financial meltdown. But Democrats will have to back down on two fronts – the highly touted consumer financial protection agency is a non-starter with most Republicans and may need to be ditched. And Democrats may have to water down President Barack Obama’s proposed bank fee – which will be seen by virtually every Republican as just another tax.
Some kind of overhaul for Wall Street really must take place, but it remains to be seen if Republicans will work on a bill with retiring Banking Chairman Chris Dodd before he retires at the end of the year.
2. Deficit reduction: For many Republicans the $787 billion stimulus package was just too much, especially after the $700 billion bank bailout last year as well, including the upcoming $1 trillion health care bill.
Democrats still have two Republicans on their side however, in the form of Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and George and Voinovich of Ohio.
Both these fiscal conservatives have signaled interest in working with Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), to pursue a serious deficit reduction policy.
The biggest hurdle for this project is the old Appropriations Committee bulls, who won’t stand for even the slightest encroachment on their power of the purse; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) could also be roadblocks. A deficit commission whose recommendations would require a binding up or down vote is a nonstarter for now.
3. Cap and trade bill: The Democrats may now be looking at dropping the 'cap and trade' part from their cap and trade bill, and then they may have a chance at passing some reform here.
Once again, Voinovich is working on a proposal that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, along with Senator Dick Lugar.
And moderate Democrats are pushing Senate leadership to drop the cap-and- trade provision in favor of an energy-only bill, which could include renewable fuels standard tax incentives for alternative energy
Senator Byron Dorgan had this to say about the bill:
"It is my assessment that we likely will not do a climate change bill this year, but we will do energy," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said Tuesday. "I think it is more likely for us to turn to something that is bipartisan and will address the country's energy interest and begin to address specific policies on climate change.”
4. Terrorism and national security: Obama's approval ratings on this subject have gone up since the Christmas Day attacks and the Democrats may still get some Republican support for changes in airline security and intelligence.
And if Democrats can keep their left flank in line on Afghanistan – and avoid ugly intraparty debates over funding Obama’s surge – they may quietly keep their edge on national security. Democrats have also signaled they’re not going to completely soft pedal the terrorism investigation – which could earn them respect for showing some independence on congressional oversight.
5. Immigration: This bill looks like it probably won't happen now that Scott Brown has won his seat. Senator Chuck Schumer has an immigration bill of some kind, but most Republicans won't touch this subject.
But Graham has expressed an interest in working with Schumer – although it’s not clear if any immigration bill could have a path to citizenship, or what opponents will deem amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Most Recommended Comment
Omaha, Nebraska, United States