Washington Report- SCI-PAC Success

SCI-PAC Victory GraphicOnce again the midterm elections are over and we are still waiting to find out the results of some of the elections. Admittedly, very few races remain outstanding. Only one Senate race went into a runoff, and that was Louisiana, where it was widely expected from the get-go. But several other Senate races came in much closer than expected, and were not decided for days after Election Day. The same is true for a handful of House races, some of which will probably have to go through a recount.

One result is already certain, however, and that is the success rate of your SCI Political Action Committee. It was monumental and unprecedented by any measure. SCI-PAC was involved in 161 House and Senate races in 2014, 24 more races than the 2012 cycle. SCI-PAC’s success rate at this writing is an astounding 94%, which is 6% higher than its success rate in the 2012 election cycle. That all adds up to a total of 148 victories in the 2014 — 28 more wins than SCI-PAC enjoyed in the 2012 cycle. And all these numbers could go higher still on December 6, with the results of the Louisiana runoff election for Senate.

These victories come against a backdrop of broad success for the Republican party on Election Day. While hunters have both friends and adversaries in both parties, and in both chambers, the effort to win Republican leadership of the Senate was a linchpin for moving forward with a pro-hunting legislative agenda. Republican victories in the Senate were both more numerous, and won by wider margins, than any pundit had forecast.   The result was an easy takeover of the leadership reins, with a likely final result of 54 Senate seats for Republicans.

So what does it all mean? The parties and pundits are still wrestling over the spin. Leading Democrats downplayed the results, of course, with Nancy Pelosi going so far as to call it a mere “ebbing of the Democratic tide.”

Barack Obama was more realistic in his assessment, but no less argumentative about the implications. Election Day was a broad renunciation of the Obama White House and its agenda, and even Obama agreed with this assessment prior to Election Day – saying that the election would be a referendum on his policies. But once the extent of the Democratic defeat was known, Obama pointed to the low turnout, asserting that voters who didn’t bother to vote were somehow signaling approval of his agenda.

While the politicians argue over the message sent by this election, the concrete result is more clear. Both chambers of the U.S. Congress will now be in the control of the loyal opposition, and the legislative logjam that characterized Democratic control of the Senate will now be dislodged. The session of Congress that is now winding down in its so-called “lame duck” session was marked by hundreds of bills passed by the House that died a quiet death in the Senate. Now, with leadership aligned between the chambers, the Republicans will be able to move both chambers in concert.

They will work together to pass signature bills intended to contrast their agenda with that of the White House. While Obama is certain to veto many such bills, the process will set up a clear agenda contrast for voters as we move into the presidential election cycle of 2016.

sunsethunterfirstforhunters030614For hunters, by corollary, the results of the election should provide concrete progress on legislative reforms that have been bottled up in the Senate for years. We expect to see early progress on the same type of comprehensive legislative package of hunters’ priorities that the House has passed and the Senate has blocked for years. The precise substance of such legislation has yet to be determined, but suffice it to say that the White House is not overly eager to approve the provisions that have been passed in earlier bills. So it is entirely possible, even likely, that we will be able to move such a signature bill easily through the Congress, only to meet with a presidential veto. But the process will at least make the stakes of the 2016 presidential contest perfectly clear to hunters.

It also will pave the way for pressing forward with piecemeal reforms. Conflict between the Congress and the White House is inevitable, but so is some degree of cooperation. They will have no choice but to pass the must-do business of the government, such as funding bills, and this forced collaboration will provide other opportunities for moving forward with elements of the hunters’ agenda.

The precise degree of promise and progress that the next two years will offer for hunters will not be clear for some time. What we do know now is that these opportunities would not exist but for the major election victories of 2014. Elections matter, and the remarkable degree of success enjoyed by SCI-PAC in the 2014 cycle will have a direct impact on the degree of legislative success that hunters enjoy in the next Congress.

At the same time, the PAC must now begin its preparations for the pivotal 2016 cycle, so SCI members should bear this linkage in mind and continue to vigorously support SCI-PAC for the challenges that are ahead.—Patrick O’Malley

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