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November 9, 2010

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Government Relations

Democrats Hold Narrow Majority in Senate, Republicans Take the House

On Nov. 2, dozens of incumbent Members of Congress were defeated as Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives. While it is unclear what will be on the agenda for the lame-duck session—which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 15—or how Republicans will lead the House in 2011, the stage has been set for legislative gridlock.

The Speaker of the House come Jan. 3, 2011, will likely be Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who will preside over a House that picked up at least 60 seats from Democrats on election night. House Republicans are still assembling their leadership team, determining who will chair House committees and putting together the details of their agenda, but already many expect a Boehner-led House to consider further tax cuts, an attempt to repeal or modify the health care reform law, a rollback of Wall Street regulations and the return of unspent stimulus funds -- all of which Democrats and the president would fight. Furthermore, many of these actions would be rebuffed by the narrowly Democratic Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to remain in control.

While a number of House committee assignments remain in flux, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) is expected to assume control of the important House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.

Taxes remain a hot topic in political circles, both in terms of how Democrats will handle the issue of the expiring Bush tax cuts in the lame-duck session, and how Republicans will use their enhanced clout in the next Congress to potentially push for additional tax cuts. Some have already begun to speculate that Republicans may be willing to allow the current tax cuts to lapse at the end of the year in order to push for an across-the-board renewal next year. Of course, Democrats have more of a reason to compromise to prevent expiration of many important tax laws at the end of 2010.