For the third time in as many elections, American have asked for change. Earlier this week during Tuesday elections, they gave the Republican control of the House and gave them a larger minority in the Senate. What likely will not change in the next two years is the amount of disparity and gridlock in Washington.
The campaigns largely focused on domestic policy, on bank bailout and stimulus programs, on health care and tax cuts. The message from voters was that they did not like the direction coming from the Congress and the president, or at least did not think the approach was working.
It is different in the realm of foreign policy, where the president has much more authority to act without congressional approval. Republicans in the House will try to do what they can. Expect to see heightened criticism of President Barack Obama’s troop reductions in Afghanistan. There will also be more focus on legislation to go after Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Bills addressing China, the United Nations and hostile leaders in North Korea and Cuba are also likely.
Obama will still have the final say through his veto powers. Congress has not voted to override a president’s foreign policy veto in a quarter of a century.
Other foreign policy efforts that require congressional approval will be tougher for Obama to finalize. In fact, it is already happening. Cap-and-trade energy legislation has died in the Senate, a treaty between the US and Russia on nuclear arms is dying. Already dead is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
In the next two years, Obama and Republican leaders will have to find common ground on these issues and any others that may arise.