Sen. Bob Corker is now chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which confirms high-level appointments in the State Department, oversees the distribution of foreign aid and is the committee in which deliberations on treaties first starts. The possibility of an international treaty on climate change in 2015 will likely be under the committee’s consideration.
The Foreign Relations Committee is one of the most high profile committees of the Senate. Former chairmen include Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Such a post could set Corker up for a cabinet position in a future Republican presidency.
Meanwhile, newly re-elected Sen. Lamar Alexander is now chairman of the HELP committee. HELP is an acronym for health, education, labor and pensions. This chairmanship puts Alexander in a key position for modifying portions of the Affordable Care Act. Every Republican candidate who successfully ran for office campaigned on repealing the ACA. And a repeal vote in the Senate is likely. President Obama has stated he will veto reform efforts but is open to changes to the law. Changes to the ACA would likely be proposed in Alexander’s committee and could be a central agenda item of the new Republican-controlled Senate.
Alexander is also the former secretary of education, having served under George H.W. Bush for two years in the early nineties. As chairman of the HELP committee, Alexander will have the chance to once again shape education policy. Education poses a unique opportunity for Republican cooperation with the Obama administration, as education policy typically crosses party lines. As chairman, late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) worked closely with the Bush administration to craft what would later be called No Child Left Behind.
The 2014 elections were clearly beneficial for the Republican Party and as a result Tennessee holds significant political clout in Washington.