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What a blue Congress could mean for ag

Progressive Cattle Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 25 January 2021

The January special elections for Georgia Senate seats have ended in a narrow victory for Democrats.

After no candidate in either race broke the 50% threshold in the November 2020 race, a special election was held in early January in which Democrat candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff narrowly defeated their Republican counterparts, giving Democrats control of Congress for the first time since 2011.

Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler with 51% of the vote. Ossoff’s race against Sen. David Perdue was even closer, with Ossoff’s winning vote coming in at 50.6%.

What a Democratic majority means

Speculation abounds as to what lies ahead with a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, along with a Democrat as president.

Changes in ag committee leadership in both the Senate and the House officially take effect following the inauguration of former Vice President Joe Biden. The House Democratic Caucus approved Rep. David Scott (D-Georgia) to serve as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in December 2020. Current Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) will replace retiring Senate committee chair Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

Political commentators say tax changes, stimulus programs and environmentally minded infrastructure projects are among the most likely options with major implications for agriculture that could be addressed through budget reconciliation. In a nutshell, the budget reconciliation process allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority instead of requiring a traditional 60-vote threshold.

The process, originally intended to be used for deficit reduction purposes, has been used in the past to pass significant policy changes by tying them to taxes and spending, which is an integral part of almost all government policies. Republicans used this process in 2017 to pass changes to the tax code after their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed. Democrats will have three opportunities to use this process, one for each fiscal year, including this year, since a fiscal budget resolution for 2021 has yet to be approved.

Proposed Supreme Court commission

During the final stretch of his presidential campaign, Biden proposed creating a bipartisan commission to advise on reforms for the Supreme Court, in response to objections from left-wingers about President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. First dismissed by progressive activists as a hindrance to actual change, now that the wind is blowing in the Democrats’ direction, numerous left-wing groups are now calling on Biden to follow up on this proposal.

Biden told reporters that the commission had six months to provide recommendations on court reform. In a letter to Biden, activists said the commission should include movement activists who have fought for overhauling the Supreme Court as well as advocates for people harmed by its decisions, and they called for the commission to be diverse. So far, no members of this commission have been officially announced. end mark

Carrie Veselka
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