Senator’s health issues almost erase Dems’ majorityWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson from South Dakota suffered a brain hemorrhage that put him in critical condition, forcing him to have emergency surgery.
The surgery was a success and Johnson is recovering nicely. Had he not recovered, it may have changed the whole face of our government.
Johnson, you see, is a Democrat. If he could not fulfill his responsibilities as a senator, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, would appoint his replacement. This means Republicans would have gained a seat in the Senate and regained the majority they lost in November.
After the election, Democrats took a 51-49 majority over the Republicans in the Senate. As the majority, they would be able to win any votes that go along party lines and get key points of power such as committee chairmanships.
If Johnson had died or had been permanently disabled and Rounds appointed a Republican to replace him, the new Senate makeup would have been 50-50.
A tie? Not really.
Since the president of the senate can cast his vote in the event of a tie, Vice President Dick Cheney, a Republican, would vote Republican on every issue. So every time there was a 50-50 vote, it would have ended up going in the Republicans’ favor because Cheney would have the final say.
The Senate would have effectively become a Republican body, swinging all votes and chairmanships their way, and effectively changing the way the government would work.
With a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, things would work differently than if all of Congress were entirely controlled by Democrats.
I’m sure you can understand how much of an impact having two different parties in control of each part of Congress would be compared to having both under a Democratic majority. Imagine how legislation would go with mixed majorities compared to one party in control of the entire Legislative Branch of our government.
For example, Republicans tend to propose and pass certain legislation regarding income taxes differently from the way Democrats have done in the past. In fact, the two parties have huge disagreements on how taxation should work for wealthier taxpayers versus the average wage earner.
Republicans have proposed and passed tax cuts for the highest income brackets. Democrats have been vigorously opposed to such laws. If they want to repeal these tax cuts, which many of them have indicated they want to, you can see how difficult this repeal might be if the House (Democratic) voted to take away the tax cuts, while the same legislation might not ever get out of a Republican-controlled committee to be voted on in a Republican-dominated Senate.
If the bill did make it out of committee, the likelihood of a 50-50 vote with the tie being broken by Cheney, thus defeating the measure, would be a likely result.
Other examples of legislation that may be entirely different now with Congress under Democratic control would be things like 401(K) plans, taxation of all kinds such as capital gains and dividends, mortgage deductions and governmental spending on items like public health insurance, the War on Terror, etc.
All of this legislation can, and does, make a direct impact on your personal finances. If Congress takes away the recent improvements in how much you can put into your 401(k) plan for people over the age of 50, for example, this would change how much you could have in retirement assets.
You may not be able to retire when you planned to, or not have as much to live on in retirement. The real point here is just how tenuous and thin the walls that govern our lives are. Major changes in how our federal government is run could change overnight just from one man getting sick.