The odds are increasing that Republicans will retake the U.S. Senate after next week’s elections. That prospect jeopardizes the Latino community’s priorities.
Polls show the Democratic candidates’ vulnerabilities: the party’s base is disillusioned with President Obama, and conservatives are motivated by their antagonism towards him.
A Republican triumph in the upper chamber would bring a 180 degree turn, as it would join the extremist agenda we’ve already seen in the House of Representatives. A couple months ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed, in front of a group of Republican multimillionaires, not to debate such “gosh darn proposals” as increasing the minimum wage, extend unemployment insurance, or making student loans more affordable through the tax system.
The Kentucky senator also talked about plans to attach policy riders to spending bills that would defund enviromental regulations and Obamacare.
Each Republican senator has his or her own plans, being welfare reform, cutting taxes for high income earners, or the Keystone pipeline, among others.
The prospect of Republicans taking over legislative committees paints a troubling picture. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz, a global warming denier, could become chairman of the Subcommittee on Science and Space.
These changes will hardly break Congress’ current inability to pass bills. In this case, the Democrat minority would be the one blocking the legislative process, just like Republicans have been doing successfully up until now. The presidential veto will be the last resort.
What can definitely be expected is that Republicans will devote the last two years of the Obama administration to unceasing oversight and investigation through legislative hearings.
And what about immigration reform?
As the Senate will move closer to the entrenched positions of the House, the possibilities of a comprehensive bill will be remote.
The worst of all is that Latino voters won’t be able to do much to stop that. This year’s electoral geography will significantly diminish their influence