What Will the 114th Congress Bring?

by Dave Schuler on July 12, 2014

The present Congress is the 113th Congress. When the next, 114th Congress takes office on January 3, 2015 it will be the fourth Congress of Prsident Obama’s term of office. what is it likely to bring? If history is any gauge, not much.

Once in office, what did these fourth congresses actually do? What was the legislative product? The first thing to say is that there is no instance of a president pressing and winning a domestic program after a second midterm. It is a zero. Hope and change are yesterday’s stories.

They have, however, responded to crises:

But now for the teeth-rattlers — the crisis legislation. Nothing has been more significant. What with Hitler on the march, history would look far different absent the huge U.S. defense buildup, the lifting of the Neutrality Act’s arms embargo and the peacetime draft voted in 1940 (L). Those were the legislative preoccupations of FDR and everybody else in that year. Also, the economy would look different absent the TARP bailout and associated measures in 2008 (Bush).

These crisis measures of 1940 and 2008 are a reminder that history can rise up and bite.

Other legislation has required strenuous lobbying, arm-twisting, persuasion, and cajoling on the part of the president. What in President Obama’s background and experience would lead you to believe that he is willing, able, or likely to do such a thing?

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