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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In the Nation

Will the New Congress Tackle Immigration and Guest Worker Program Reform?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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CapitolWith the November 6 mid-term elections just behind us, what can we expect come January 1, 2019 in the new Congress?

The consensus of the pollsters and pundits was borne out when the U.S. House of Representatives flipped from Republican control to Democratic. The discussion now is how many additional seats will the Democrats control? The current count stands at thirty-five, but some see that number growing to as high as forty as late returns from California continue to come in.  

On the other hand, Republicans retained control of the U.S. Senate. There is also a good chance that Republicans may pick up a seat or two, adding to their current slim majority.

When you have split control over the machinery of the legislative process, things can tend to go in one of two ways: more bipartisanship in making deals and getting things done, or greater gridlock as both sides dig deeper into their respective ideological corners.

We have good examples where split political control over the levers of government has led to productivity.

For example, during Republican Ronald Reagan’s first six years in office from 1980 until 1986, he faced a House controlled by Democrats, while the Senate was in Republican control. Nonetheless, Reagan was able to achieve most of his major legislative accomplishments during that time of split control, including major tax cuts and comprehensive immigration reform.

President Trump will face a situation analogous to that which Reagan faced come January 1.

As well, during the Democratic Clinton Administration, Republicans won control over both houses of Congress in 1994. Although there were great political battles waged during that time, including the impeachment of the President, that period produced major reform of the federal welfare system and a program to provide health insurance to needy children.

The Clinton presidency also marked the first time that the federal budget produced an annual surplus since the 1960’s. We haven’t seen a federal budget surplus since.

Given this history, there does seem to be reason for hope that a new Congress with split control could be more productive. Perhaps even pass a new comprehensive immigration bill and workable guest worker programs.

Let’s hope that the new wave of both Democrats and Republicans elected November 6 include at least some willing to reach across the aisle to their opposite party colleagues.

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