2010 Election Changes Congressional Balance New Congressional Composition May Affect ASHA-Related Issues Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   November 01, 2010
2010 Election Changes Congressional Balance
Author Notes
  • Kate Fry, director of political advocacy, can be reached at kfry@asha.org.
    Kate Fry, director of political advocacy, can be reached at kfry@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   November 01, 2010
2010 Election Changes Congressional Balance
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 2. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.15142010.2
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 2. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.15142010.2
American voters called for a new direction on Nov. 2, following an election cycle driven by a referendum on the economy, a rejection of the status quo, a strengthened Tea Party movement, millions in advertising spent by anonymous groups as a result of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, and even the party called “The Rent Is Too Damn High” created on YouTube. More than 500 seats were contested in House, Senate, and gubnatorial races. Although the election results were a resounding statement on the current mood of the country, they leave a plethora of questions about the country’s legislative and political future.
Control of Congress
The Republican Party rode the largest election wave since 1948, capturing more than 60 seats to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They also tightened their margins in the U.S. Senate, winning 24 of 37 races. The flood of new legislators from both political parties who will make up the 112th Congress will result in one of the largest classes of new members of Congress in the nation’s history.
The Congress that will decide legislation important to ASHA members will look dramatically different from its predecessor. Many of the more than 100 new faces will serve on committees with jurisdiction over health care and education policies. The partisan ratio of members serving on these committees reflects the overall makeup of each chamber, leaving Republicans a significant number of slots to fill and leaving Democrats with fewer committee appointments.
In the House, ASHA works primarily with three committees—Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means. Together they lost more than 20 members in the election and will experience leadership changes on the full committees and their subcommittees and membership changes when new committee assignments are made. In the Senate, ASHA works primarily with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Finance Committee, which also will see a restructured membership and a change in leadership.
ASHA-PAC: Bipartisan Force
The ASHA Political Action Committee (ASHA-PAC) was extremely active leading up to the elections. ASHA-PAC supported 58 candidates in the primary and general elections; 93% won their races in the general election. ASHA-PAC rejects partisan politics and supports candidates who stand up for issues of importance to speech-language pathology and audiology and who are an in a position to influence legislation important to ASHA members.
2012 and Beyond
The Republican takeover of the House and increased Republican presence in the Senate creates a scenario of legislative uncertainty for the next two years. Will the divided Congress usher in a new age of compromise or will it add to partisanship?
ASHA’s public policy agenda is nonpartisan, but it will face a challenge in the new fiscally conservative and partisan legislative atmosphere. The new Republican majority will allow partisan legislation to pass the House, but the Democratic-controlled Senate can succeed in halting progress on bills. The administration already has announced its intent to use the veto if needed.
Republicans undoubtedly will seek to make their mark on a number of initiatives, including health care reform. The likelihood of outright repeal of the reform bill is slim, but the House may find success in negating certain provisions of the bill through appropriations measures. Congress and the administration may be able to find common ground on education policies; work has already begun at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), but with a change in leadership, the future of these efforts is uncertain.
Overall, members of both political parties likely will use the next two years to position themselves for the 2012 election cycle. Expect “statement” legislation to emerge from both chambers as leadership teams seek to solidify their base of support and brand their image.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
November 2010
Volume 15, Issue 14