With the dusts settling after yesterday’s midterm election, the GOP retained control of the Senate while the Democrats took the reins of the House, as the majority party.
In a statement, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond said, “On behalf of our 38 million members, AARP congratulates the newly elected and returning members of Congress, governors, and state and local officials across the country. We look forward to working with them to address the issues that matter most to older Americans and their families.
She noted, “Year after year, Americans age 50 and older make up the majority of voters, and as a result, are a deciding factor in our elections. That was true again last night, with national exit polls showing that 50-plus voters made up 56 percent of the electorate.”
Health Care a Big Issue for Older Voters
According to LeaMond, over the years AARP surveys have shown that a majority of the older voters said their concerns were the political division in American and rising health care costs. “We urge policymakers to come together to lower prescription drug costs, protect people with pre-existing conditions, protect them from an age tax, and strengthen and safeguard Medicare and Social Security.”
National Committee President and CEO Max Richtman noted in a statement that voters supported candidates who promised to protect Social Security, Medicare, evening bringing back the control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats for the first time in 8 years. “
“This is a victory for seniors and their families who have seen their earned benefits threatened time and again under Republican control of the House. The election results mean that Congress can cast aside the tired trope of ‘entitlement reform’ (code for cutting benefits), and work vigorously to boost Social Security and Medicare for current and future retirees,” said Richtman. “The new majority will serve as a firewall against further attempts to slash Medicaid and repeal or sabotage the Affordable Care Act – and challenge President Trump to fulfill his campaign promises to protect Social Security and Medicare,” he said.
Richtman says that with Democrats controlling the House legislative agenda, legislation to protect and expand seniors’ earned benefits will receive serious consideration in the next Congress after being blocked by GOP House leadership. This includes Rep. John Larson’s (D-CT) Social Security 2100 Act, which would increase benefits and keep the system solvent for the rest of the century, he said.
Dems to Take Control of House Committees
When the 116th Congress convenes in January, Larson will become chairmanship of the House Social Security Subcommittee. Another champion of Social Security and Medicare, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), is expected to wield the gavel in the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, while Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) probably will head the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees Medicare, said Richtman.
“We will work with the new House leadership and members to give retirees a much-needed raise in their earned benefits – and defend seniors from demands that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid be slashed to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations,” said Richtman. “This is a tremendous opportunity to restore American values of fairness and compassion – including caring for the sick and elderly – to the people’s house.”