While the headlines may focus on repealing health care or debt ceiling votes, the real effects of the GOP landslide in November is much more chilling in the takeover of House Committees that set the legislative agenda, spending and oversight priorities for the next two years.
Most symbolic is the removal of the word “Labor” from the former House Education and Labor Committee, now known as the Education and Workforce Committee. The word Labor had been in the Committee’s title in one form or another for more than 122 years. In 1995, after the last GOP takeover of the House, Republicans first removed “Labor” from the Committee title. In 2006, the new Democratic majority restored tradition and added Labor back. Now it’s out again.
But the significance is much more than words. The new Education and Workforce Committee has a clear anti-union agenda. Its website’s Oversight section proudly proclaims “Opposing Washington’s Culture of Union Favoritism” as one of its main goals. Included in that agenda is an effort to roll back the more democratic election rules for transportation workers to choose unions, weaken prevailing wage laws that keep companies from lowering workers’ wages on federal projects, and weakening efforts to provide help for workers who lost their jobs because of trade deals.
Also on the agenda is a so-called pledge to stop the “Fight against President Obama’s Government Takeover of Student Loans” which refers to efforts by the former Democratic majority to lower the cost of student loans. The Democratic program saved students and families thousands of dollars in interest costs.