Last week, Americans throughout the country cast their votes in the 2014 midterm elections. The 114th Congress will be controlled by a 53 Republicans, 2 Independents and 44 Democrats in the Senate. Due to the close results, Louisiana will hold a run off race in December. In the House, the Republican party increased their majority by 12 members for a total of 244 to 184 Democratic seats.
What does this mean? The leadership of the Senate will shift with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expected to become majority leader and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., will become the minority leader. Sen. McConnell has expressed an interest in working together and his opposition to shutting down the federal government again. Also, in 2015 the Senate committees will be chaired by Republicans. According to Politico, the House Democrats are expected to lose seats on some committees, “(which) means the party will lose some serious sway in the Capitol – and a shrinking number of committee seats is the most public manifestation in that loss of power.”
What happens next? The House and Senate will hold elections this week to determine the leaders of the party. Both parties are expected to keep their current top leaders. After these elections, Sen. McConnell stated he would like to “clear the decks,” and urged Congress to approve some outstanding legislation before the 113th Congress adjourns at the end of the year. This means a bill funding the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year will be introduced and hopefully approved before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11, 2014.
2015 and Beyond With a newly elected Congress, AADR and our partners will be working throughout the year educating elected officials about the importance of biomedical research and urging them to provide sustained, predictable and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. As always, with a new Congress there is a potential for increased attention to fiscal constraint and as such it will be more important than ever for AADR science advocates to stay informed about developments and engage with their members of Congress at home and in Washington, DC to communicate the value of your research. It is unclear how the 114th Congress will address the continued austere federal budget, but we can hope that through our advocacy, our voice will be heard and progress will be made.