This morning, millions of Americans are wondering what the new Congress will be able to accomplish now that Democrats control the House while Republicans control the Senate. The country is more divided than ever, as Tuesday night proved the divide between rural and urban America has grown deeper. But all Americans, including politicians, have a stake in the success of this divided 116th Congress.
While it would be good for the country if both sides came together and sing kumbaya, today’s political reality is still a divided one. Each party will still play politics to their base, and they’ve made that clear. In addition to investigative subpoenas into the Administration and President Trump, Democrats will send legislation to a Republican Senate that will never see the light of day, including a tax cut repeal, a bolstering of Obamacare, and possibly impeachment proceedings. Republicans will keep confirming more of President Trump’s judicial nominees. It is possible, though unlikely, that both sides come together to strike a deal on infrastructure or immigration, but gridlock will likely be the theme of the session.
Though politics will reign supreme for all of those issues, there is one issue a divided Congress will be required to work on together – the budget. Congress will have to muster the votes to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and arrange for a new budget resolution for next year.
Once the calling card for Republicans when they were in the minority, fiscal responsibility moved to the Democrats when they decried how much the GOP tax cuts would add to the debt. Both sides have warned about how much that debt harms Americans, particularly young Americans. And now both parties have a portion in the minority. Will Republicans and Democrats embrace their passion for fiscal responsibility or will they relapse into their majoritarian profligacy.
There hasn’t been much talk of either side’s policy agendas, but one side has made it clear that the biggest driver of our financial trouble, entitlements, will not be addressed this Congress. Trump has thus far refused to touch entitlements and last night, the probable Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said her party’s win was “about stopping the GOP and Mitch McConnell’s assault on Medicare and Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.”
At the end of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, Darth Vader watches as his son Luke Skywalker is tortured by Emperor Palpatine. After seeing the damage being done to his son, Vader has a change of heart and destroys the emperor. The takeaway, even the worst characters, *cough* Congress, can surprise us and choose to do good.
With attention already turning towards the 2020 cycle, Congress’s appetite for tough votes may look scarce. If the next two years are to be a success for the American people, both parties will have to have a change of heart and work together in order to bring back hope to the galaxy.
“Help us divided Congress, you’re our only hope.”