Well, the midterm elections of 2014 are history, and it turns out that, for once, most prognosticators got it right. The GOP did regain control of the Senate, and they picked up seats in the House of Representatives as well. Here’s a brief recap of what happened.
As we said in our last column, Republicans needed a net gain of six seats for control of the Senate. They flipped the three open seats they hoped they would: Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.
That left nine seats that were seen as toss-ups. And not only did the GOP keep Kentucky, Kansas and Georgia in the red, they ran the table with Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. By midnight on Election Night, the GOP held a 52-45 lead in the Senate (including the two Independents that have been caucusing with Democrats), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was the presumptive new Senate Majority Leader. (Technically, leadership elections had to occur before he officially took over as Majority Leader.)
Then the GOP added insult to injury when both Alaska and Louisiana turned red, with challenger Dan Sullivan (R) winning in Alaska when all ballots were in and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) unseating incumbent Mary Landrieu in a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.
When the smoke cleared, the Senate had 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and two Independents. That mean GOP control of committees and the schedule of what comes to the Senate floor for votes. It also means the chance at real action when it comes to critical energy and environmental issues such as the Keystone Pipeline, natural gas availability and opposing EPA greenhouse gas emissions and ozone regulations.
It is important to note that the Republican majority in the Senate may be short-lived. The Senate map in 2016 looks as favorable for the Democrats as 2014 looked for the GOP. Republicans such as Mark Kirk in Illinois, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Rob Portman in Ohio and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania will be up in 2016, and they need newly elected Majority Leader McConnell to run a very different Senate than Harry Reid to keep their seats.
In the House, the GOP did even better than expected. The breakdown in the House is 247 Republicans to 188 Democrats. That’s the biggest GOP majority in the House since 1928.
The Forging Industry and the 114th Congress
It remains to be seen how the new Republican Congress and President Obama will interact with each other. Although there are some early signs that they may be able to find some common ground on a few topics, there are still some major issues where they will likely not agree. Immigration reform, Obamacare and the Keystone Pipeline are expected to continue to cause friction.
The most likely area of compromise seems to be the potential for comprehensive tax reform since there is general agreement that the system needs overhauling. The Forging Industry Association will be working to ensure that manufacturers are treated equally regardless of their business structure in any tax-reform efforts.
There is no rest for the weary. Congress reconvened on Jan. 6, and FIA went to Capitol Hill to educate new members of Congress about forging and its importance to a strong manufacturing economy in the U.S.
More importantly, the next FIA Lobby Day is quickly approaching. Join us in Washington, D.C., April 22-23!