Can Republicans expand control over our polarized nation?
When he is sworn into office in January, President-elect Donald Trump will have a rare luxury: there will be a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress. This could boost his chances of enacting major aspects of his platform and possibly dislodge some of the gridlock that currently exists in Washington. Or can it?
In today’s polarized era, members of Congress tend to vote along party lines, allowing more chances of legislative success for a president. The last time there was a single party in control was when Obama was first elected in 2008, which only lasted until the shellacking of the Democrats during the partisan tide of the 2010 midterm elections. During that time Obama was able to pass landmark pieces of legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, which would never have passed if not for the Democratic majority in Congress.
“The last time there was a single party in control was when Obama was first elected in 2008, which only lasted until the shellacking the Democrats took during the partisan tide of the 2010 midterm elections.”
For the most part, Republicans share many policy and political goals, which incentivizes them to work out their differences. However, Republicans are deeply divided when it comes to trade policy, something that Trump prioritized greatly during his campaign. This makes the change on trade policy difficult for Trump since it brings the need of Democratic votes.
“Republicans are deeply divided when it comes to trade policy, something that Trump prioritized greatly during his campaign.”
Another roadblock to legislative success for the Republicans will be that of the Senate filibuster. Democrats are sure to use this to prevent ultra-conservative legislation from passing through the Senate, unless Republicans can gather the 60 votes necessary to stop the filibuster. One such issue that this will likely be used for is immigration reform.
Trump and congressional Republicans will most likely rely on the budget reconciliation process to pass at least a couple of facets of Trump’s platform such as tax cuts and entitlement reforms. This would be the easiest legislation to pass through the Senate because it only requires 51 votes to get passed and cannot be filibustered.
The final hindrance to the Trump administration’s legislative success is simply Trump’s lack of electoral experience and leadership style. The Republicans may have control of both the executive and legislative branches, but that does not necessarily mean that the gridlock will go away, or that Trump will make all of his campaign promises a reality.