Ashwin Prabaharan ’26
In the 2022 Midterm elections, the Republican Party took a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, taking back control of the chamber for the first time since 2018. The majority stands as a major force of opposition between the administration of President Joe Biden and its allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Though the election cycle proved disappointing for Republicans who were expected to make heavy gains across the nation, it resulted in divided government, and an era of bipartisanship and moderated politics has emerged as an ambitious possibility to many, including myself.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, commanding a Republican majority of only 4 representatives, can use this opportunity to bridge extreme partisan divides, giving rise to spectacular debates and issue-based political action. I admit, it is a bit “pie-in-the-sky” to wish for such a level of cooperation, given the nearly historic level of animosity between the two factions in the chamber. I, however, learning and working to understand some of the problems facing the American people, can be optimistic in hoping that the 118th Congress proves to be unique in the chapters of congressional history. Historic inflation, police reform protests, and continued fighting in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict are just the tip of the iceberg. These policy issues require swift political action to be dealt with that would safeguard American interests and help work towards a just political society. It’s the only approach that the American people should expect of their Congress. How can they go about this?
Congressional leadership, now more than ever, holds an unabashed level of influence and control over the functioning of the chamber. With Speaker McCarthy and a very small number of powerful Republican leaders and whips holding the power to decide what legislation makes it to the floor to be voted on, the majority of work that will be produced by the 118th Congress will stem from their offices. Given their very small margin and a tendency within their ranks for rebellious behavior, Republicans ought to incorporate the input and feedback of their Democratic colleagues. Using this as a forum of broad discussion and vigorous debate, the House can pass meaningful legislation with broad margins, bringing to light a much-needed breather to intense and often personal political conduct.
It is also pertinent to note the politically challenging future Democrats will be facing with the 2024 Senate elections, with party incumbents in Ohio, West Virginia, Montana and Nevada where Republicans have performed much better on the state-level compared to their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Senate Democrats, holding the gavel in their chamber, would and should take a keen interest in cooperating with House leadership to game out effective and passable legislation. A Congress working side-by-side to deliver action for its constituents would find it hard to face strong opposition for their efforts.
The nation will continue to face policy and political situations to deal with. A united Congress, however, working towards a common good, can help disabuse the electorate of the readily accepted illusion that Congress is ineffective beyond comprehension. Voters are sick and tired of hearing about Congress’ vices. The image of incompetency and complacency stays fresh in our minds whenever the news is turned on.
Congress, prove us wrong.
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