Kiplinger: ‘Risky’ To Bet On GOP Winning Senate; Gridlock To ‘Worsen’

2014 Senate Races -- Light Red: Retiring Republican; Dark Red: Incumbent Republican; Light Blue: Retiring Democrat; Dark Blue: Incumbent Democrat; Grey: No Election. (Graphic: Wikipedia)

2014 Senate Races — Light Red: Retiring Republican; Dark Red: Incumbent Republican; Light Blue: Retiring Democrat; Dark Blue: Incumbent Democrat; Grey: No Election. (Graphic: Wikipedia)

One leading consulting firm says it would be “risky” to bet on Republicans taking control of the Senate. But Kiplinger warns no matter the breakdown of GOP and Democratic senators next year, gridlock almost certainly will get worse.

Democrats currently control 53 seats, with the upper chamber’s two independent members caucusing with them for a — usually safe — total of 55 votes. There are 45 Republican senators. So, the GOP needs to pick up six seats in October’s midterm elections to grab control of the Senate.

In a recent letter to clients that was obtained by Defense News, Kiplinger says that is “a risky bet, even in a good GOP year.”

“They’ll keep power in the House. But in the Senate…They’ll gain three or four seats, maybe five, capitalizing on President [Barack] Obama’s sinking ratings, an economy that’s recovering in fits and starts, and a sense that US foreign policy is bogged down,” Kiplinger’s analysts wrote.

The bottom line: “They need six. Not impossible, but tough.”

The firm’s forecast is that the GOP will pick up Senate seats, meaning “the margin will be slender” — perhaps 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans.

Or this: “Perhaps even 50-50, with Vice President Joe Biden breaking tie votes.”

Whatever the final party breakdown, Kiplinger expects the gridlock that has defined the Obama Era “will likely worsen” next year.

Sixty votes are required to pass things like annual appropriations and authorizations bills — as well as things like potential NSA and immigration reform measures. So it’s easy to see how little would likely get done for the remainder of Obama’s presidency.

Democrats need five Republicans to get to 60 with their 55-45 edge now. If the next majority is 51, the party in power will need nine other votes,” Kiplinger noted. “That’s a boatload in the current environment.”

This matters greatly for the defense sector.

Just think back to last fall, when even a Democratic senator and a Republican senator who have worked together for a long time, Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, could not reach an agreement on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill died as a result.

That could well happen under a 51-49 or 50-50 Senate.

It also matters because, as Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., has said, if the GOP takes the Senate, the party would have a chance to inflate the Pentagon’s annual budget.

But given Kiplinger’s forecast, it’s clear Democrats could easily block any bill that gets rid of defense sequestration cuts while keeping domestic ones.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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