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The impact of a potential power shift in the US Senate


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The impact of a potential power shift in the US Senate

The 2014 US midterm elections will determine whether or not the Democrats are able to hold on to a Senate majority.

But does it really matter if the Senate flips?

Washington politics could well remain at an impasse regardless of the result.

While, to an extent, the constitution forces consensus, it only works when there is compromise. During President Obama’s administration, the system has become dysfunctional.

Toni-Michelle Travis is an associate professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University.

“Some people just dislike his foreign policy,” she said of Obama. “They think he is indecisive, he should have moved rapidly on some of these issues in the Middle East. They just think he is wishy-washy and they don’t think he fits their image of what the president ought to be doing.”

The outgoing Congress is the least productive in modern American history. Critics say the Republicans have drifted to extreme positions, with some even using their majority in the House to block any of Obama’s initiatives.

The public is frustrated, explained Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings Institution.

“There is no expression of the voters. The voters just say: ugh! We don’t like the way things are going. But they don’t have any ideas of how to do it. And they disagree amongst themselves, Democrats and Republicans. So, there is no mandate, there is no lesson, there is no reason to change and there is no obvious proposal that would garner Republican support.”

Obama’s approval ratings hover at around 40 percent while Congress’ are even worse, at just 10 percent.

“Having a Democratic Senate would be a good thing (for Obama),” said Professor Travis, “But it wouldn’t increase the prospects of him getting an immigration bill through, of him getting major infrastructure investment. He will have to rely on his authority as president to act through executive orders and administrative regulations.”

Ironically, the public will re-elect most members of Congress. This is due largely to the way voting districts are drawn and re-drawn. Among the 435 House seats, only 20-30 could change hands.

Euronews correspondent Stefan Grobe sent this report from Washington:
“Bottom line: Don’t expect much of the next Congress. Things will likely get worse, as the 2016 presidential campaign has already begun to suck oxygen out of the political arena.”

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