Policy Update: November 7, 2012

On November 6th, President Obama defeated former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, winning a second term in office.  The Congressional landscape did not change dramatically, despite a few key seats changing hands.  Republicans will continue to hold majority in the House. In the Senate, Democrats picked up several seats but are still short of a sixty-vote majority.

Obama 303* 51%
Romney 206 48%

*At the time of this writing, Florida (which has 29 electoral votes) is predicted to go to President Obama, but has not been confirmed – this will bring the President’s electoral total to 332

53 48 2
200-205* 220-225 0

*At the time of this writing, some races have not yet been called

Massachusetts Results

Beyond President Obama's reelection, in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country, Elizabeth Warren prevailed in her bid for the Senate seat held by Senator Scott Brown by 8 percent.  Warren is likely to be a strong proponent of the Obama Administration's current student aid and higher education policies, as well as scientific research, among other issues.

In Massachusetts House races,  

Joseph Kennedy III won election to Congress with 61 percent of the vote in the Fourth District to replace retiring Congressman Barney Frank.  

In the Sixth District, John Tierney appears to have defeated Former State Senator Richard Tisei by 3,800 votes out of 350,000 cast (or 1%).  A higher education and workforce development expert, Tierney is the only New England member currently serving on the House Education Committee.  

In the new 9th District, Congressman Bill Keating of Bourne cruised to his first re-election to the House. 

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas of Lowell and Congressmen Mike Capuano, Ed Markey, and Stephen Lynch all easily defeated nominal challengers.  Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield and Jim McGovern of Worcester were unopposed for reelection. 

North Carolina And Washington State

Northeastern will continue to engage with the congressional delegations from Massachusetts and other states, including those representing our graduate campuses in North Carolina and Washington State, especially around fostering new collaborations.

In North Carolina, Republicans will control 9 of the state’s 14 House seats, picking up 3 open seats and defeating incumbent Congressman Larry Kissell. Notably, Rep. Virginia Foxx, the current Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education, whose district includes the Charlotte suburbs, was re-elected, as was Rep. Mel Watt who represents Charlotte proper. Rep. David Price, Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, also cruised to reelection in his Durham-based district.

In North Carolina state legislative races, Republicans will control the House, Senate and Governorship for the first time since the 19th century. In Washington state, Democrats will control 6 out of 10 House districts, picking up 3 open seats. On the Republican side, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of theHouse Republican Leadership, was re-elected. Senior members of the Washington state delegation on both sides, Reps. Larsen (D), Hastings (R), McDermott (D), Reichert (R), and Adam Smith (D) were all re-elected.

Lastly, former Congressman Jay Inslee was elected Governor of the state.

Congressional Blanace of Power and Outlook

Democrats are likely to control 55 seats in the new United States Senate, including Independents. The party breakdown in the House of Representatives has not yet been finally determined, but Republicans will retain about a 20-seat majority. This will likely strengthen Democrats' negotiating position with respect to the looming fiscal cliff and sequesterthat is set to take effect on January 2nd, unless Congress acts to postpone it.

Congress will return for a lame duck session next week, and a group of Senators have been quietly meeting to prepare a possible tax and spending compromise to prevent increases in marginal tax rates and across-the-board spending cuts. However, prior to the election, Congress enacted a Continuing Resolution that will continue to fund the government thru March 27, 2013, so it is likely that the most intractable issues will be postponed until the new Congress takes office. While the CR has helped to produce an uncertain short term federal funding environment, the President's re-election may begin to shake out agency solicitations for major Administration initiatives that had been previously planned but stalled.

President Aoun, along with other university presidents, recently wrote to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation outlining the impact sequestration would have on the Commonwealth, including essential student financial aid and research funding programs. 

State Legislature

There were few surprises in the elections for the State Legislature. Of particular note, Senate President Therese Murray, who faced a rematch with a Republican opponent she narrowly defeated in 2010, was reelected. In January, under current Senate rules, Senator Murraywill begin the final two years of her Presidency. Members of Northeastern's state legislative delegation, including Senator Sonia Chiang-Diaz, and Representatives Jeffrey Sanchez (Jamaica Plain), Byron Rushing (South End) and Gloria Fox (Roxbury)were all reelected. Jay Kaufman of Northeastern’s public policy school ran unopposed for his House seat in Lexington. House Speaker DeLeo, a Northeastern alum will remain as Speaker.

The Office of Government Relations will continue to provide updates on federal funding activity.