November 11th, 2012


President Barack Obama won a historic second term on Nov. 6th, 2012. The President’s win was decisive, sweeping the swing states, earning 332 electoral votes, and receiving more than 50% of the popular vote. He built his reelection on a similar coalition from 2008, winning a strong majority of women, minorities, youth, and working class voters. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney received 47.9% of the popular vote and 206 electoral votes.

There were some surprises in the House and Senate elections; however, the changes will not impact Congress as a whole. Democrats increased their numbers to retain control of the U.S. Senate, picking up 2 seats with a 53-45 majority (Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders will caucus with the Democrats while Maine Independent Senator-Elect Angus King has not indicated with which party he will caucus). Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives for the next two years for the 113th Congress. The current tally in the House shows a Republican majority of 234 to 194. Democratic candidates currently lead in all seven of the outstanding races that are too close to call.

While possible changes to the President’s Cabinet may lie ahead, it is certain that newly installed Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, will continue his work in developing priorities with tribal leaders for the Obama Administration’s second term.

In Congress, the retirement Senator Daniel Akaka, a tireless champion of Indian country and the only indigenous Member of the Senate, leaves open the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the 113th Congress. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who won her third term in the U.S. Senate, is next in line for this position.

Finally, at least 80 new members of Congress will serve in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). This number includes 23 women legislators, 20 minority members of Congress, and 12 new members with prior military service. Indian country is gearing up to immediately meet with these new Members to inform them of tribal federal priorities in the coming session of Congress.

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