Should Republicans pick up the six seats they need to take a majority in the U.S. Senate this November, there will be nothing short of political upheaval in the nation’s capital.
Most significantly, legislation that sailed through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives only to be buried in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) will finally get a vote in a Republican-run Senate.
Based on his public statements about such Republican-backed measures, Obama would presumably issue the first vetoes of his presidency and explain why.
Attaining committee chairmanships, along with being critical to the crafting and guidance of legislation, means Senate Republicans will be enabled to exercise subpoena power for the last two years of the Obama Administration.
Moreover, a Republican majority would give many senior senators in the GOP Conference a chance at gavels they or their colleagues have not wielded since Democrats took control of the Senate in 2006.
In many cases, the committee chairmen-in-waiting are more moderate than conservative and will deal with Democrats on the other side.
One obvious example is Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) who emerged from a tight primary with a tea party-backed opponent battle and is headed for a certain seventh term this fall. He will resume the chairmanship of the all-powerful Appropriations Committee. More than a few Mississippi Republicans believe Cochran was convinced to run again because of the opportunities for federal largess his chairmanship could bring to their state.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will undergo a “night-and-day” change if Republicans take the Senate. Present Chairman and extreme environmentalist Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) would yield the gavel to Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe who once wrote a book on climate change entitled “The Great Hoax.”
Sen. Inhofe, a 20-year senator, once told Newsmax that he intended to achieve his years-long dream of chairing the Armed Services Committee, on which he is now ranking Republican. But he will have to wait a bit for this dream to come true. Under the rules of the Senate, John McCain (Ariz.), formerly ranking Republican on the same committee but never its chairman—is entitled to three two-year terms at the helm of Armed Services.
Presently locked in an unexpectedly tight re-election battle with a free-spending independent candidate, three-term Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts would become Senate Agriculture Committee chairman in a Republican-run Senate and the first chairman of the panel who once chaired the Agriculture Committee in the House.
Should Roberts be defeated, however, the Agriculture chair could go to a number of committee members: Chuck Grassley (Iowa), a farmer himself but also slated to be chairman of the Finance Committee; John Thune (S.D.), chairman of the Senate GOP Conference and thus No. 3 in the Senate Republican hierarchy (and slated to chair the Senate Commerce Committee); or freshman John Boozman (Ark.).
Five-termer Richard Shelby (Ala.) would resume his former chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee, where he was a major critic of large international banks and the Federal Reserve Board.
Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) who left the Senate GOP leadership because he wanted a freer hand in finding common ground with Democrats, is not a “poster child” among conservatives and especially not with the “tea party” (a tea party-backed challenger performed unexpectedly well against him in the primary this year). But the onetime governor of the Volunteer State, presidential candidate, and secretary of education is in line to chair the HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee.
One senator who will make history in the event of a GOP takeover is Utah’s seven-termer, Orrin Hatch. Along with almost certainly becoming Judiciary Committee chairman, Hatch, as the most senior Republican in the Senate, will assume the position of president pro tem of the Senate, third in line to the U.S. presidency.
In reaching the president pro tem’s office, Hatch, who long coveted appointment, will receive a larger office and government car and driver. Hatch will also become the highest-serving government official who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon).
Some younger and fresher Republican senators would move up to key perches in the event of a GOP takeover. Freshmen Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) are poised to chair the Rules and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees respectively. Richard Burr (N.C.) is in line to be chairman of the Senate Intelligence or Veterans Affairs Committee. Two-termer Bob Corker (Tenn.), an outspoken critic of Russian involvement in Ukraine, would take up the gavel at Foreign Relations.
But for the most part, a Republican Senate would primarily mean that many of the party’s veteran lawmakers would assume power—and have a “last hurrah.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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