By John Chwat
ESA Director of Government Relations
After Election Day (Nov. 4), ESA and industry officials can expect some major changes in U.S. Congress that will impact federal issues for the coming year.
As reported in the national media, all 435 U.S. House seats and 34 Senate seats are up for election. It is possible that the Senate may revert to a Republican majority, which, combined with a GOP lead in the House of Representatives, would prove to be a formidable opposition to the last two years of the Democratic administration. If this change occurs, all of the committees in the Senate will be under the control of new chairmen, staffs and policies, which can have an impact on legislation pertaining to our industry.
For example, ESA currently has a few education related projects (school security, apprenticeship and other issues) on the table in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which is currently chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). If the Republicans take the senate, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is expected to become chair of the committee, which could have a drastic impact on bills presented to the HELP Committee. He and other GOP senators are supportive of the business community lead by the Chamber of Commerce that works together with ESA on many labor and workplace issues.
Changes to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation could also have an effect on ESA and the Alarm Industry Communication Committee (AICC). The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC -- an area in which ESA and AICC are very active on industry issues such as broadband, net neutrality and telecom.
Additionally, the election of new Senate leaders will impact ESA members on taxes, small business issues and other policies in the 114th Congress that covers 2015-2016.
The next 120 days will be very important to ESA members. The old Congress will be meeting in a "lame duck" session until the end of the year where it will pass unfinished legislation, which ESA is closely monitoring and reporting.
The new Congress will meet in Washington, D.C. right after the election to choose new leaders, hold briefings on its responsibilities and begin organizing for the start of another cycle of Congress in the new year.
Even though some have said this is a "do nothing Congress" a lot will be happening in the next 120 days, so it's imperative that we pay attention.