In An Election Year?

Congress gets back to work this week. They’ve taken time off to enjoy the holidays, but now the fun begins for them. Democrats in both the House and the Senate are chomping at the bit to try and get something done. The problem is, this is an election year. And it’s a watershed election year for Democrats. They have a razor thin margin in the House, and no margin what-so-ever in the Senate. So, do you punt the ball to next year and hope to keep control? Or do you try to jam as many unpopular items through as possible and do a scorched earth type of campaign. You know you’re going to lose anyway, make it count toward something.

Either way is a no-win for Democrats.

First of all, if they do nothing, if they sit on the agenda items that Biden spent his first year trying to get through and not really getting much traction, you’re going to see America wondering why we even need Congress in the first place. That certainly isn’t something to run on come the fall if you’re an incumbent. If you decide that you’re going to make it partisan and try and show the differences between what you want to do, and what the Republicans would do (as the Democrats are trying in many ads they’ve been testing lately), you run the risk of actually pushing people that don’t agree with your agenda to the GOP. That’s something no one in the Dems’ camp wants.

The second way could be even more costly. If they throw caution to the wind and tackle the issues that they really want to accomplish during the year, they most assuredly will lose come November. The two main things that Democrats want right now is to pass some sort of Build Back Better legislation, albeit scaled way back from the $2 trillion package Biden wanted. They’ll try to get some of the cherry items through and funded, but won’t be able to have all of it. And the key sticking point is going to be the increase in the Child Tax Credit. Biden’s people say that’s a “must have” in any legislation. Joe Manchin did not include that in his proposal to the White House. And Manchin’s vote is critical if BBB is going to pass in any form this year. Chuckles Schumer is considering ramming Build Back Better under a budget reconciliation and suspend all debate on the matter, but again, Manchin is standing in the way.

The other issue that is going to be important to the left is Voters’ Rights legislation. Democrats are furious over the states taking the lead in defining what constitutes voters’ rights so far. They’ve seen no fewer than 36 states make major changes to their voting laws during 2021. The biggest area of contention is what is and is not considered to be allowed and legal when it comes to mail-in ballots. Republicans are convinced that having lax mail-in standards is one of the reasons that led to Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in five battleground states. So, 72% of the states out there decided to clamp down on what they would allow going forward. We’ll see those changes in time for this year’s midterm elections, and will get a glimpse into whether or not it makes a difference. But Congress is hoping they can inject a federal law that applies only to federal elections. The legal challenges to that will be incredible, and with the Supreme Court being 6-3 conservative, it’s a pretty safe bet, any legislation will fall under Supreme judicial scrutiny.

One other area that the Democrats are fighting for is filibuster reform. There are several Democrats in the Senate that want to see the filibuster rules changed. These would include going back to the voice filibuster, whereby if you’re going to tie up the floor, you have to talk the entire time (that was the way it was in the old days), and there is also a move a foot to try and change the definition as to when you can shut off debate. Currently it takes 60 votes to do that. Democrats are hoping to change it to making it 41 votes to NOT shut down debate, which would be easier to accomplish. But the problem with any of this is that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both said that they are against any changes to the filibuster rule. And they may not be alone. That said, there isn’t any way Schumer could get to 50 votes to allow K-baby Harris the chance to break the tie. And word is that they are trying to convince Manchin and Sinema that if they don’t break up the current filibuster rule, the January 6th riot could happen at any time. Logically that makes no sense, and it doesn’t seem to be swaying either Manchin or Sinema.

A lot is on the plate for an election year. And a lot will need to happen if the Democrats hope to pass any of it. Time will tell, but it’s going to be a good year for the popcorn industry! That’s about all I can say about it!

Carry on world…you’re dismissed!

4 thoughts on “In An Election Year?

  1. I saw a congressional calendar once. Looking at it, it seemed to be one of the un-busiest calendars I’d ever seen. I think it was accompanied by an article written by someone who complained that, given what members of congress are paid annually, they aren’t earning their salaries. There’s more “time off” than “time on.” It occurred to me that the nation could be “safer” when congress critters are absent, but that’s just me. My guess is that in an election year, members of congress will spend even more time in their home districts.

    But I think you’re right. There is much work that confronts Democrats in Congress. A few examples come to mind.

    1. Several years ago, Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson (an attorney in his prior life) expressed concern that, with a realignment of Navy and Marine Corps personnel to Guam from Okinawa, the island might capsize. Granted, the admiral he was speaking to didn’t seem overly impressed by Mr. Johnson’s obviously genuine concern, but this is a problem that wasn’t solved. It’s something Democrats in Congress could tackle between now and whenever they break for home district campaigning. I’m sure the Guamanians would appreciate it.
    2. We could use a few more non-binding resolutions, such as one calling for a free 3,000 square foot home for every undocumented alien that crossed into the United States since January 2020. That would be entertaining.
    3. We definitely need a build-back better infrastructure bill — something that would guarantee inflationary prices for consumers, who are altogether too materialistic anyway.
    4. Congress might consider yet another impeachment of Donald Trump; they could get two more in before the reelection break.
    5. The American people could definitely use more hearings about the unarmed insurrection from a year ago.
    6. We have way too many guns in the hands of police officers. They could do something about that.
    7. And you know, they still haven’t solved the problem of climate change. Just this morning, at around 8:00 a.m., I noticed that it’s a lot warmer than it was at 1:00 a.m. when I finally turned out the light.

    Actually, I think we have too many House members. Why do we need more than two from each state? Just think of the savings from salaries and perks, the cost of office spaces, the cost of staff, and the concomitant reduction in the numbers of bribes being offered to elected officials at any one time.

    Thank you for your great commentary today, and I particularly appreciate your photo of popcorn, one of America’s primary food groups. 

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