This past week we finally saw the much anticipated transfer of power in Congress. Both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate is under the control of the Republican Party. With this new Congress in 2015, comes a whole new set of problems. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has had a strained relationship Republicans as his own party controlled at least one of the house of Congress in all of his previous six years. Both Congressional Republicans and the President are set to clash on many of the issues such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, Immigration, and the president’s new proposal to make community college free for students.
On top of the obvious contention on the specific issues that will undoubtedly require compromise to make anything happen over the next two years, we are getting very close to the time when many people begin announcing their candidacy for President of the United States. Many senators are expected to throw their hat into the 2016 race, especially on the Republican side. How will that complicate things and they begin jockeying their primary constituency?
Relationships will continue to be strained if President Obama continues to do executive action on things that he can fix alone. We saw this with his executive order on immigration, ultimately protecting around 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. While this is a good thing that he’s done, it has angered Republicans and they have threatened to pull funds from the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that is supposed to administer immigration and deportation policies. The problem with the Republicans’ plan is that it is very silly to remove any funding from DHS especially in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks on France. These types of terrorist activities have the potential to end up occurring on the streets of America and if DHS has to reallocate funding because the Republicans don’t like something they haven’t tackled themselves, they are putting the lives of the American people at risk for political purposes.
New Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that one of the first things that the senate would so is to pass a bill approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, something that the president has already threatened to veto if passed. Republicans argue that this will create more jobs and will help America be less dependent on foreign oil. Well, the problem with that is it’s clearly bad for the environment, but furthermore American has already been stepping up on the production of oil in the United States. That is said to be a huge contributing factor in the lower gas prices over the last several weeks. More production is more supply but the demand for oil is shrinking. American has already achieved it’s purpose of weaning us off of foreign oil, creating jobs, and lowering gas prices. Adding another to that can threaten that current deal because at a certain point, adding even more supply will ultimately lose jobs because the cost of oil is low and gas producers won’t be able to afford employing as many people. The president might win on this one, but he has to message all of the facts a lot better to get the support of the American people.
Finally, we heard President Obama’s proposal to make two years of community college free for students, in a way that public high schools are free for students. In the proposal, the federal government would cover 75% of the tuition, while the states would cover 25% of the tuition. Republicans are already showing some opposition to this plan, including Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is the new chair of the senate education committee. Their arguments, of course, includes overreach on the part of the federal government. The real reason Republicans don’t support this plan is simply because they don’t want more Americans being educated. Democrats typically win the votes of educated Americans and having more educated has the potential to take votes away from Republicans. But beyond the politics of it, his plan is good to hopefully rid this country of for-profit schools that take advantage of unwitting students. In addition, a more educated workforce increases innovation, something that is definitely needed at this time.
The Atlantic – The Same Old ‘New’ Congress
Washington Times – Obama, Democrats clash with new GOP majority as 114th Congress convenes