Democrats Take Over House and Senate
WASHINGTON -- For the first time in 12 years, the Democratic Party won control over the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections, as well as barely tipping the scale in the Senate.
After a number of tight races were finally called--well after Election Day--the Democrats won the Senate by a slim 51-49 margin, with two Independents caucusing with the Democrats. Credit union friend Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has promised to introduce the Credit Union regulatory Improvements Act in the Senate, was one of them; the other Independent was Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), whose re-election campaign CUNA's political action committee dumped nearly $160,000 into through independent expenditures on direct mailings that could not be coordinated with the candidate.
At the same time, the Senate Banking Committee lost Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) to retirement and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) who lost his bid for re-election in the Democratic sweep. Santorum also served on the Finance Committee, which oversees tax law. Committee members Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) retired at the end of the 109th Congress, but Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who sit on the committee, were re-elected.
The Dems took the House by 233 to 202 at press time as former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (D), and CURIA co-sponsor, edged out incumbent Henry Bonilla (R).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been named speaker-designate though it will not be official until January. Credit union tax-exemption supporter Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has been elected majority leader.
On the other side of the aisle, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will serve as minority leader with Trent Lott (R-Miss.) stepping in as minority whip. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the last Congress was elected to minority leader for the 110th Congress and Roy Blunt (Mo.) will serve as the Republican Whip.
Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will head up the House Financial Services Committee and credit union convert Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) was named ranking member. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) is expected to become the Ways and Means Committee chairman.
In the Senate, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will lead the Banking Committee while Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will pick up the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee leadership.
Both major credit union trade association PACs achieved record levels in the 2005-06 election cycle. Through Election Day of the 2005-06 election cycle, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council of CUNA contributed $2.89 million to federal candidates and leadership PACs, not including independent expenditures, compared to $2.4 million in the 2003-04 election cycle with a presidential election. CUNA expected that figure to continue to increase through year-end. CULAC also raised $3.6 million so far, slightly edging out last cycle's record already.
CULAC enjoyed an approximate 92% success rate with the candidates it backed.
NAFCU/PAC also had its own record-breaking year, raising $342,754.50 and disbursed $415,000 to candidates and PACs as of Election Day. Collections still slightly trailed cycle-end 2003-04 receipts at press time, but contributions beat 2003-04's $296,870. NAFCU/PAC far exceeded the last non-presidential election cycle (2001-02) when it took in $131,840 and disbursed $124,183. --firstname.lastname@example.org