Nov 5, 2010
12:24 PMThe Wind Machine
Elections 2010: The Senate
● Three United States senators from the Pacific Northwest were up for reelection on Tuesday and all won: Senator Mike Crapo (R) in Idaho, Senator Ron Wyden (D) in Oregon, and Senator Patty Murray (D) in Washington.
● One significant change in the Senate when it meets in January will be a shift in the chairmanship of its Agriculture Committee. Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D) lost her election in Arkansas on Tuesday and, thus, leadership of this committee is in play. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan, someone close to the fruit and vegetable industry, would like to succeed Senator Lincoln, but others might step in, such as Senator Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota. The Senate’s version of the next Farm Bill will be fashioned in this committee.
● It is difficult to see how any controversial partisan legislation will pass the Senate during the 112th Congress. While Democrats are in the majority, Republicans will have even more votes to sustain any stalling tactics orchestrated by minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky. (As a side light, I had a good talk with Senator McConnell about four years ago in the bar of a restaurant in Yakima when he was on a campaign swing in support of the doomed candidacy of Mike McGavick. No one else in the small group present that afternoon paid much attention to the little-known visitor from Kentucky.)
● One potential bright spot next year may be legislation in support of increasing exports. President Obama, who departs for India today, has announced trade enhancement as one of his top economic priorities. The election of such new senators as Rob Portman (R) of Ohio, a former trade official in the Bush Administration, may help with passage of stalled free trade agreements, like the one proposed with Korea. And perhaps, just perhaps, provide additional support for achieving a solution to the NAFTA trucking dispute that has led to costly Mexican retaliatory tariffs on our fruit exported South.