S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Post-election Congressional Round-up

In the U.S. House and Senate -- The picture is slowly coming together. Congress starts back to work next week with a "lame duck" session. Come January everything changes. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is 254 (a majority is 218); the Republicans now hold 173 seats, a net gain of 20 for Democrats. In the Senate 51 is a majority; the Democrats now hold 55 seats and the Republicans hold 39, a net gain of 6 for Democrats. Just getting to the magic 60 may be difficult, but there are other ways around the filibuster dilemma. There are two Independents who currently caucus with the Democrats. But there are still six seats within both chambers where a recount or runoff is pending. States involved include Minnesota, Alaska, Virginia, California, Ohio and Georgia.

Democratic Party Changes:

Senator Robert Byrd will step down January 6, 2009, as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and will be replaced by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Politico reports. And there is still no decision about what to do with Senator Joe Leiberman. With DNC chairman Howard Dean stepping down, Senator Claire McCaskill has been mentioned to replace him as head of the Democratic National Committee. Senator Clinton will return to the Senate under new terms, most likely with increased influence. No doubt, she will be interested in health care reform.

Rahm Emanuel was fourth in the House leadership hierarchy. He is now President-elect Obama's new Chief of Staff. There will be an election to fill his vacant Illinois district seat. Emanuel, already beginning to serve informally, said a couple of days ago that President-elect Obama still intends to make a quick call for a middle-class tax cut, according to John Bresnahan of The Crypt at Politico relays some good info regarding the shakeup from fellow reporter, Chris Cillizza: Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) will chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To quote:

Van Hollen will also serve as a "special assistant" to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) focusing on policy coordination between the House Democratic leadership and the incoming Obama administration. . .

Van Hollen's decision clears the way for Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) to become Democratic Caucus chairman, replacing Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who is set to become President-elect Obama's chief of staff.

With Van Hollen staying at the DCCC, that avoids a messy leadership fight for Pelosi, although there is still a battle between Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) to replace Larson as Caucus vice chair.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is challenging Rep John Dingell of Michigan for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, according to the Washington Post of Nov. 7, and Time of Nov. 10. Waxman has been honing his skills by holding an amazing number of hearings in his Government operations Committee. He is younger than Dingell, but certainly no tougher.

Republican Party:

We are not sure what the terms of Senator John McCain's return to the Senate will be, according to a New York Times story, "The Return of John McCain, but Which One?" Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss faces a run-off election in Georgia in December.

In the House, "Maneuvering Begins for House GOP Leaders," headlined the WaPo shortly after the elections. John Boehner will probably remain as House Minority Leader, but Whip, Roy Blunt of Missouri has stepped down. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will most likely replace him.

The Washington Post reported earlier that 11-term Connecticut Representative Christopher Shays was defeated by Democrat Jim Himes, whom the NYT calls "bull-headed and a Rhodes scholar." His loss removed the last Republican representation in all of New England. Surviving Republican Senators from New England include Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. I was sorry to see Shays go; he was a fine moderate Representative, never an ideologue. Such moderate Republicans are becoming an endangered species.


  1. House Winners, by District (111th Congress) - Very useful current interactive map in the Washington Post.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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