The Dems' 'bucket list': 5 things to do before November?

The midterm elections could see Democrats lose their majorities in Congress and the Senate. Should they focus on passing these key pieces of legislation?

Pelosi and Reid
(Image credit: Corbis)

If the polls are to be believed, the Democrats face losing control of Congress, and maybe even the Senate, in November. According to Politics Daily, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are putting together a congressional "bucket list" of policies to achieve should they figuratively "die" at the ballot box. But what should be on this list — and could passing the related legislation help the party's midterm performance?

1. REFORM WALL STREET

How: Pushing Senator Chris Dodd's financial services reform bill through the Senate. The bill proposes more stringent controls on Wall Street, and a new independent consumer regulator to oversee private mortgages and credit cards.

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Will it help: Voters overwhelmingly rate the economy as the top issue for 2010, according to recent Gallop polls, so if the Democrats look as if they are fixing it, it could be a "populist rallying cry at a time when Democrats desperately need to fire up their base," says Politics Daily.

Likelihood: Still in the balance. The Republicans are dead set against Dodd's bill, says Adam Sorenson at Time. However, says The Hill, the White House is "intensifying its pressure on Republicans" to support financial overhaul.

2. LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT AND CREATE NEW JOBS

How: President Obama already signed a basic job creation bill last month, notes CNN, extending highways programmes and easing tax regulations. An additional jobs bill giving more aid to states is likely to come before the House later this month.

Will it help: The fate of the Democrats in November "will be determined largely by the health of the economy," says Patricia Murphy at Politics Daily. If unemployment is still around 10 percent, it could impact badly on the Dems.

Likelihood: Uncertain. A variety of smaller job creation bills are held up in the Senate while lawmakers look for ways to pay for them, says Vicki Needham at The Hill, and debate continues over whether or not unemployment benefits should be extended. Any new legislation will need bipartisan support.

3. PICK A SUPREME COURT NOMINEE

How: The Senate must approve the replacement for Justice John Paul Stephens, so the President is likely to name a new justice while the Democrats have a majority.

Will it help: Could prove divisive. A recent Rasmussen poll said that 39 percent of Americans think the current court is too liberal, while 25 percent think it's too conservative. Reaction to a Supreme Court nominee could galvanize the divided GOP to unite behind one leader ahead of elections, according to John Mercurio in the National Journal.

Likelihood: High. Obama has already called a bipartisan meeting to discuss replacing Stevens, who is likely to step down at the end of June.

4. TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE

How: Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are busy formulating a climate and energy bill which Reid is "pushing hard" to bring to the Senate before the July 4 recess, says John Mercurio at NationalJournal.com. The compromise bill is likely to propose a limited cap-and-trade system applied to power plants, a tax on motor fuels and provisions to boost nuclear power.

Will it help: The latest polls say that almost half of Americans think the seriousness of global warming has been "generally exaggerated," so it's unlikely to add up to a popularity boost for the Democrats, especially with the proposed gas tax.

Likelihood: With some "prominent Republican senators," including Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, admitting they would support a climate change bill, the forecast looks good, says Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. The bill is set to be unveiled next week.

5. REFORM U.S. IMMIGRATION

How: An overhaul of immigration laws which would reform border security measures, introduce a temporary guest worker program for future immigrants and allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status in the US.

Will it help: One person it may help is Harry Reid, who's facing a tough re-election battle in a Nevada district that's 25 percent Latino. Reid told a Las Vegas rally at the weekend it would be high on his list of priorities, even though immigration reform could "pose serious problems for Democrats in more conservative states," says Julia Preston in The New York Times.

Likelihood: Unlikely. Reid was forced to retreat from his immigration reform stand, saying it would not be dealt with "this work period."

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