Happy New Year - and welcome back to Washminster. The year ahead promises to be one of the most interesting for watchers of Parliament and Congress.
In the United States this will be a major election year. For the first time in over half a century neither presidential candidate will be a sitting President or Vice President. This could be one of the most intense and exciting presidential elections in decades. Congress itself will be affected, not only by the Presidential election, but by the Senate and House races. With many retirements already announced - meaning open seats, which are more competitive - there is much to play for, offensively and defensively, by each party. Washminster will be following both individual races and surveying the national and state scenes during the coming months.
The 110th Congress is at its half way point - events within the chambers and committee rooms will continue to be interesting. Washminster will look at the impact of the coming elections on behaviour, as well as considering the issues and procedures.
At Westminster, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords face challenging years. The European Reform Treaty Bill will be making its way through Parliament. It could be a tough fight - with procedures tested to their limits. 2008 will probably not be an election year - but the battle is already on. How will Brown, Cameron & Clegg perform? Which party can seize the initiative? How will backbenchers enhance or threaten their parties chances? In the House of Lords the reform issue will heat up further. Die hard opponents of an elected chamber will continue to press for the Steel Bill, while the Government is due to produce a White Paper in the early months of the year.
The Iowa caucus will be held tomorrow (January 3rd). Parliament returns on Monday. Hang on for a roller coast year!!!