The 112th and 113th Congresses were, combined, the least productive in congressional history. So, the 114th Congress, which opened January 6, 2015 to Republicans controlling both houses, has almost no where to go but up, both in productivity and in public esteem. Expectations could not be lower. But with the largest Republican majority in the House since 1947, or possibly since 1929, the GOP feels some responsibility to govern and establish a record of accomplishment. Ron Elving of NPR explains that big majorities mean:
- Congress can make a historical difference, either by passing legislation, over-riding a president’s veto, or blocking a president’s big plans.
- Speaker Boehner has breathing room, and is not held hostage by a radical fringe of his party — 20 or 30 most extreme members.
- Republican majority in the House is relatively secure until after the 2020 election, when redistricting will occur.
- Republicans have a 54-44 buffer majority in the Senate. But if not careful, they could lose the Senate in 2016, as many more Republicans are up for re-election, depending on which issues gain momentum and whether Republicans are viewed as blocking the popular will or embodying the popular will.