The Eye of the Storm in Congress

The Eye of the Storm in Congress
Jillian Bateman — February 7, 2022

From the perspective of someone who monitors state and federal legislation on a regular basis, Congress was very quiet in January. So quiet, in fact, we didn’t tag a single bill for monitoring. But watching the news, we know a lot is going on as Congress gets geared up for the second year of the 117th Session. We are in the eye of the congressional hurricane and it will not be because of the volume of bills being introduced, it will be because of the political storms that will come with any bill of consequence.

This is the norm in election years, but this year brings some unusual twists. Democrats will, by all accounts in the media and evidenced by the significant number of announced retirements of Democratic members in the House, lose control of the House with the November elections. It is not unusual for the President’s party to lose seats in Congress at the mid-term, but numbers that rival the Democratic losses in 2010 and 2014 are predicted for 2022, which would be significantly more than the norm. Of course, as the old saying goes, “politics is local”, so no one can assume the outcome on any number of races. But it is safe to say the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate is ruling with the distinct possibility it will lose control in Congress by trying to pass as much and as far-reaching legislation as it can, while it can. Thus, the storm.

Democrats can push through any number of bills in the House like “Build Back Better”, but the politically deadlocked Senate has complicated the Democratic agenda to the point of making the more progressive members in the House downright apoplectic. Just another day inside the beltway.

What this means for our industry is a mixed bag. Some good things may not happen, but many bad things, near term and long term, won’t happen either. For now, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is still in place and many attribute this to the economy doing as well as it is considering the challenges it faces with supply chain and labor shortages, high consumer demand and the inflationary pressures that follow. The more entrenched and polarized things get, the less likely any meaningful legislation for either side will pass.

The political storm will increase in intensity. We will monitor it all.