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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

GOP opens new era on Capitol Hill

Congress has entered its GOP phase with both the House and Senate controlled by the Republicans.

A lot of the commentary I’ve been reading point to a mix of strategies that the GOP will pursue.

Part is proving they can govern, which means passing legislation that President Obama will actually sign into law.

Another part will be a continuation of their strategy to thwart administration initiatives in areas such as immigration, global warming and other progressive issues.

But another part of the GOP focus will be on controlling dissent in their ranks.

Speaker John Boehner was elected to a third-term as speaker of the House but 25 Republicans voted against him, compared to just 12 two years ago. And this comes after an election that saw the GOP grow its majority in the House to 246 of 435 seats. That’s its biggest majority in decades, according to the Wall Street Journal.

You'd think Boehner would be seen as a hero to the GOP.

The Senate likely will be the primary source of compromise between the two parties where the new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the GOP to be “less scary,” according to the Washington Post.

He’s looking at 2016 and doesn’t want the public to be fearful of a Republican president and a Republican Congress.

The thinking is that the GOP will look for some low hanging fruit – items that the president will want to sign. My understanding is that these will be in areas such as infrastructure, tax reform (probably limited) and international trade.

All three of those are issues that will get a favorable reception with the voters back home. Does that mean issues near and dear to contractors, namely procurement and acquisition reform, will be lost in the shuffle?

Maybe not. Acquisition reform often has a bipartisan flavor so measures related to it could find their into other legislation because I doubt a standalone bill will make it through.

The Sony email hack will likely bring increased pressure for more cybersecurity legislation, which could bring more requirements for agencies and the private sector, which in turn would create opportunities for contractors. Look for measures that give more protection to companies and other entities reporting hacks of their systems.

In all likelihood, the prospect for cooperation between the parties will only last a few months at best.

The big issue remains of how to put together a budget that will pass and get signed. Will defense spending increase? Will the sequester limits be lifted? Will the GOP insist on defunding Obamacare or immigration reform?

Finding common ground on these bigger issues will be much more difficult because the budget is at the heart of the fundamental philosophies Democrats and Republicans hold on the role of government. Neither side is likely to give much ground here.

So, here is to a month or two or progress and cooperation, and many more months of rancor and discord.

I hope that isn’t too cynical of a view for the start of a new year because overall, I’m optimistic. We as a nation will eventually do the right thing. It just might be ugly getting there.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 06, 2015 at 9:34 AM

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