NABR’s 2014 Midterm Election Round-Up

The seemingly endless campaign ads on television, the mountains of campaign materials in the mail, the countless sound bites, the frenzy of social media posts are finally over, for now at least. American voters went to the polls yesterday and made their voices heard.

Thankfully, there was a quick answer to one of the biggest questions looming over this year’s midterm elections: Which party will control the United States Senate? Pundits across the airwaves hinted that Republicans might have a slight advantage over Democrats, but that the decision over control could stretch into January of 2015 because of potential run-off elections in both Louisiana and Georgia. However in the Georgia Senate race, Republican David Perdue beat Democrat Michelle Nunn handily with 52.97% of the vote, thus avoiding a run-off in that state. In Louisiana however, there will be a run-off scheduled for December 6 between incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. The Louisiana run-off does not impact the control of the Senate, as Republicans won control of eight Democratic-held seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia giving them a total of 52 seats thus far. Results are currently pending in Virginia where Republican challenger Ed Gillespie performed better than many expected against incumbent Senator Mark Warner. In the House, Republicans will have increased their margin by an additional 14-18 seats over their current 34 seat advantage once the post-election dust settles. This will be the largest Republican majority in the House of Representatives since World War II.

2014 was not a good midterm election for animal rights proponents. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is currently the chair of two committees with jurisdiction over the NIH, will be retiring and his Senatorial seat will now be filled by Republican newcomer Joni Ernst. Harkin, a long-time supporter of the NIH and science, was also a sympathetic voice for opponents of the availability of chimpanzees in biomedical research. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), a cosponsor of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act in the 112th Congress, lost his election to Republican candidate Dan Sullivan. Senator Landrieu, a steadfast supporter of the Humane Society of the United States, still could lose her run-off election next month. To view projected Senate Committee chairmanships presented by Science Insider, please click here. We will keep you updated on those committee assignments as they become available.. Several ardent animal rights supporters will not be returning to Congress: Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA), Rep. Alyson Schwartz (D-PA), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). The most notable of these departures would be the retirement of Rep. Moran who, for many years, has been a leader on Capitol Hill for HSUS and other animal rights organizations. Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) race is currently too close to call. If she were to lose, the animal rights community would lose another top voice in Congress. With Republicans expanding their control in the House and the loss of the above representatives, the new Congress is likely to be even more supportive of humane and responsible animal research.

Over the next few months, NABR will be busy educating freshman policymakers to ensure that sound, science-based policy is given full consideration in Congress. Please continue to visit the News You Can Use section on our homepage at www.NABR.org for updates of interest to the biomedical research community.