After Congress was sworn in last week, House Speaker John Boehner continued to wield the gavel in the House of Representatives and Sen. Mitch McConnell became the Senate majority leader. What does it now mean that the GOP has taken control of both houses of Congress?
During the last Congress, the Republicans took on the role of adversaries and, especially in the House, generally failed to negotiate with President Obama. In essence, the party seemed to act according to the old cliche, cutting off its nose to spite its face.
But now that Republicans have taken control, it is their job to set the tone, iron out its differences with the Democratic Party and work with the president to pass legislation that is best for the nation, rather than the party. During the past two years, ideology always seemed to get in the way.
Since 2010, with the birth of the tea party, its elements always take stances that are farther to the right than the GOP’s conservative wing has taken in the past. The Party of Lincoln, which nowadays prefers to be called the Party of Reagan, just never seemed to learn from “the Gipper.” Throughout his years as governor of California and president, Ronald Reagan learned that, in politics, you have to give a little to get a little.
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I’m sure that Boehner and McConnell will be able to find common ground with their counterparts in the Democratic Party: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
But the ability of the moderates in the GOP to work with the tea-party element still remains suspect at this point.
In the past, a considerable amount of the legislation that was passed by the GOP-controlled House — such as 50 unsuccessful votes to repeal Obamacare — was mostly ceremonial, since it was certain not to be passed by the Senate. And Obama still has the veto pen.
As the 114th Congress begins, the onus is now on the Republicans to pass meaningful legislation that it believes can avoid the president’s veto.
Anything else would reveal the GOP’s past bluster as just being a sham.
Joseph P. Huber, Plantation