VU forum discusses midterm elections, federal policy predictions for new year

Vanderbilt’s Office of Federal Relations sponsored a forum for faculty and staff Dec. 16 in Alumni Hall. “Election 2014: Postgame Analysis and Policy Predictions” examined the Republican victories in the midterm elections, the legislation considered during the recent “lame duck” congressional session, and the outlook for federal policy issues when Congress returns to Washington in January 2015.

Wiseman (Vanderbilt University)

Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune moderated the session. The panel featured Alan Wiseman, associate professor of political science; Christina West, assistant vice chancellor for federal relations; and Alex Currie, associate director of federal relations.

Wiseman presented his research on the effectiveness of members of the House of Representatives. He and colleague Craig Volden of the University of Virginia scored legislators serving from 1973 to 2012 on their effectiveness as lawmakers. Wiseman noted that many of the House members elected to serve in the Senate come January had scored as “very effective” lawmakers during their time in the House. Wiseman speculated that this could have positive implications for diminishing gridlock.

Currie addressed the outcome of the recent election. He examined the Republican takeover of the Senate, noting that many of the Republican candidates who ran in the 2014 midterms were considered stronger than those who had run in recent midterms. He also discussed the upcoming power struggle between the conservative wing of the Republican party and more moderate Republicans and Democrats, who may team up to keep policy initiatives toward the middle of the political spectrum.

West discussed the legislative proceedings of the recent “lame duck” session, the period between when elections take place and when Congress adjourns for the year. In addition to passing a spending bill to fund most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year, several smaller policy bills were passed and signed into law. The Senate also confirmed an unexpectedly large number of nominations in the very last days of the session.

by Gabriella Ra’anan