At 1pm Houston time today, Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) will announce that
he is switching from the Republican Party to become an Independent voting
with the Democrats. If this happens, control of the Senate will switch to
the Democrats, which will give the Dems a majority and control of the
? All committee chairs would become Democratic and the Dems would control the
( Energy bills, California bailout, possible investigation of who influenced
the Cheney plan etc.). In a profound ideological shift, Sen. Murkowski (R-
AK) would be replaced by Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) as chair of the Senate Energy
? The recommendations for loosening regulations for oil/gas drilling, coal
and power as well as incentives for new generation contained in the Cheney
bill are likely to be heavily revised in favor of more conservation-oriented
? The tax bill will likely be downsized, particularly if Jeffords makes his
switch immediately. The timing is important because the Senate-House
conference on the bill must be appointed immediately.
? All presidential appointments would be controlled by the Dems. This is
significant because of the large number of sub-cabinet level appointments
that need to be approved.
At the same time, Republicans are trying to convince Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA),
who already votes Republican, to switch to the Republican party. If this
happens, it will cancel out the expected Jeffords move. Initial reports are
that Miller will not switch.
One other caveat -- Jeffords has pondered a switch in the past and then
flaked out. But if Jeffords goes through with it and Miller stays put, the
balance of power in Washington will be tipped in favor of the Democrats.