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What the 114th Congress Did, and Didn't, Accomplish
12/06/2016 Politics Raymond Z
keywords: Legislation

On January 3rd, 2017, the 114th Congressional session comes to a close. To refresh memories, this is the congress that was put in place on that same date in 2015, following the 2014 elections. Those elections placed Republicans in control over both houses of congress with 247 seats in the House of Representatives and 54 the U.S. Senate. It was the first time the Republicans had majorities in both houses since the 109th Congress and the biggest majority for the party since back in the 71st Congress of 1929-1931. So, as this session closes, what has it accomplished? Where did it fail? Let's take a look.

A Drama-Filled Congress

The drama-filled first year of the 114th Congress began on January 6, 2015, when John Boehner was re-elected as Speaker of the House. Two months later, on March 3rd, Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress about U.S. sanctions against Iran. It raised some eyebrows as the speaker made such a move without first consulting President Obama. This was followed up on March 9th, with all but 7 members of the Senate signing a letter that was sent to Iran, questioning the President's authority in dealing with Iran over nuclear weapons. The stage for confrontation was set early.

Pope Francis became the first pope to ever address a joint session of Congress on September 24th. The speech apparently so affected House Speaker Boehner that he resigned his position effective at the end of October. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was expected to step into the role of Speaker, but surprisingly took himself out of the running. On October 29, 2015, Paul Ryan was narrowly elected to fill Boehner's shoes, become the youngest Speaker in 140 years.

The drama continued in June of 2016 when congress began debating gun control following the deaths of 50 people during the Orlando Pulse nightclub attacks. It was culminated by a sit-in by Democrats that lasted more than 24 hours.

Major Legislation of the 114th Congress

While it seems at times the 114th Congress was filled it with contention, distrust, obstruction, and certainly some surprises, there were 16 pieces of significant pieces of legislation passed. They included:

At times, this congress appeared more interested in making one side or another look bad, rather than working in the best interest of the people. The Republican majority will continue for the 115th Congress and the drama is likely to intensify with a new wildcard President. 

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