With 2013 nearly in the record books, pundits, politicians and public policy professionals are looking ahead to decode the challenges and opportunities that 2014 will present. This week, Stanton Communications dusts off its crystal ball to look at four issues that could shape the political landscape in the coming year:
- A return to regular order and a truce in the budget battle: The budget deal announced this week isn’t the grand bargain many hoped for and it definitely won’t satisfy everyone, especially the Tea Party. However, it could be enough to signal a truce in the fiscal logjam that has paralyzed Congress. The deal would also pave the way for Congress to return to regular order in 2014 signifying a departure from governing by crisis. This means organizations seeking congressional action should begin preparing now to engage Members of Congress so that they are part of the conversation when Congress reconvenes in the New Year.
- Immigration reform in some form or fashion: As Congress prepares its slate of legislative goals for 2014, there is little doubt that immigration reform will be near the top of the wish list. While it is doubtful that comprehensive immigration reform like the Dream Act will come up for a vote, there is enough political pressure from interest groups and big business (especially from the tech sector) to force Congress to address some part of the problem in 2014.
- Spotlight on oversight: 2014 is an election year, which means political posturing will start early. Republicans still see an opportunity to erode the Democrats’ standing on Obamacare and the Democrats will point to Republican obstruction. Expect these debates to be played out in grand scale through the spectacle that is Congress’ oversight apparatus. Of special note will continue to be Darrel Issa’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s continued investigation into Benghazi and Obamacare.
- All eyes on infrastructure: As conferees complete their work on WRRDA, expect the House and Senate to turn their attention to rail and highway reauthorizations. These two upcoming pieces of legislation will define the infrastructure and transportation debates over the coming year and interests are already lining up to get their piece of the pie. Those groups still waiting to schedule meetings with key committee staff are wasting valuable time and should engage now.
These are only four potential issues Congress is expected to take up next year and many more could be added to the agenda by external forces but one event takes precedence: the midterm elections. The midterms will define the balance of power in the Senate and President Obama’s willingness to work with an increasingly polarized legislature. While we can’t say exactly what 2014 will bring, it is safe to say that divorcing your organization from the process is not recommended.