112th Congress

The 2011 Congress stands at D.C.


As the 111th Congress and Senate finishes its session before it recesses for the holiday season, the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand. They have developed a strategy and agenda that is based on the philosophy of cutting spending, not raising taxes, and stopping all earmarks.

Everyone in the country is well aware that the 112th Congress and Senate session is the beginning of the conservatives taking back influential leadership positions in many major committees. The Democrats will only have the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives can stop major bills from being passed, because the two parties are on different sides of the fence.

The Republicans are determined to initiate their vision of a smaller federal bureaucracy while cutting spending, and repealing the new healthcare bill. The 42 Senators in the 111th Congress have been circulating a statement that says, “We are not- we are going to block every piece of legislation that comes our way unless it’s related to tax cuts or government spending.” The gridlock of this week may be a sign of things to come next year.

The Republicans are adamant about expanding all of Bush’s tax cuts and are refusing to give an inch on their position. This week President Obama had a summit at the White House with leaders of the Democrats and the Republicans to create a “spirit of cooperation.” This was the first time since the Democratic beating in the election that there was a bipartisan meeting.

President Obama admits that there are “real philosophical differences” between the two parties and this is why there are Democrats and Republicans. While the summit was going on, the Republican leaders were agreeing to work together, and the other members were passing around a statement to block Democratic legislation.

President Obama and his administration are well aware that this past election is the beginning of a new dialogue with the Republicans. Getting bills passed in the next session of Congress will be very difficult and diplomatic negotiations will be the key. During the 111th Congress, the Democrats had the majority in both houses and it was easy for the Democrats to railroad their agenda through without much resistance from the Republicans.

The Republicans will takeover as John Boehner becomes the Speaker of the House, and the numbers will be 242 Republicans to 192 Democrats. With this major shift in the dynamics of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration will no longer have the numbers to get their bills passed.

The new Speaker of the House

The Republicans are now in a position to be a spoiler and create gridlock in the legislative process. In order to get anything done in Congress, the two sides will have to compromise and talk to each other.

The tax cuts are slated to conclude at the end of the year, and the Republicans want a two-year extension on all tax cuts. This is a top priority for the Republicans in the Senate, and they are holding firm on their position. This is the beginging of a stalemate in the Senate, and there is a possibility that this gridlock will continue during the 112th Congress.

OMB Budget Director Jack Lew

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

President Obama has appointed Jack Lew, the OMB Budget Director, and Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary to sit down with members of the House and Senate to find common ground and ensure middle-class Americans taxes don’t go up.

On the other hand, the Republicans want an extension on tax cuts for everyone.

The Democrats no longer have a majority in both houses and there is now a level playing field. The next couple of weeks are an indicator of the chess match that will be going on in Congress. Maybe our representatives will find some common ground and eliminate a total gridlock and stalemate.

Check out Roger’s blog at http://www.presidentobamawatch.blogspot.com