Batten Prof. Raymond Scheppach, Batten faculty member Gerry Warburg and Center for Politics spokesperson Geoffrey Skelley held a discussion in the Batten School Thursday following the strong Republican showing in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
The trio said the Republicans elected had relatively moderate policies, though there would likely be some changes in Congress’s policy priorities.
Warburg said anticipated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are doing all they can to pass an agenda with strong support, and so they must rely on moderate Republicans and moderate policies.
“Republicans have an impressively modest agenda,” Warburg said. “Corporate tax rates, the keystone pipeline, some trade agreements — we’re talking about a relatively modest agenda. This big referendum on ObamaCare, not so much. McConnell did a very good job of getting some more mainstream candidates. In some places we have new leadership coming forward which isn’t going to be radically different.”
Participants also discussed immigration and President Barack Obama's statement Wednesday that he will fight for immigration reform. Skelley said the Republican Congressional majority will likely complicate such efforts.
“A small number of parts of immigration might see movement," Skelley said. "There’s such a polarized partisan atmosphere, I think it’s hard to bet on progress.”
The conversation then turned to the 2016 elections and its anticipated outcome. Warburg, a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill, said Democrats will make a strong comeback in the 2016 congressional elections. Scheppach, meanwhile, said Republicans will have great success in the 2016 presidential elections.
“When you’ve got 31 Republican governors, you’re gonna be pretty powerful when it comes to the presidential election,” said Scheppach, a former director of the National Governors Association.
Warburg said Congress will try to expand its powers in the coming years, pushing back against an increasingly powerful executive.
“I think you’re going to see a broad fight between the branches, between the legislative and executive branch to try to restore some power to Congress,” Warburg said. “Will Congress as an institution take back powers on war powers and budget? It will be very interesting to see how much Congress asserts its authority over war and peace decisions.”
Fourth-year College student Matthew Kincaid who attended the talk said seeing how both Republican-controlled houses of Congress reach agreement will be interesting to watch.
“I think policy has potential to move forward,” Kincaid said. “Now that the House can actually pass legislation and agree on something, they can force Obama to look at different paths for legislation and dare him to veto certain stuff.”