Now, a full month after the 2022 midterm elections, we finally have a full picture of the outcome. There has been a small shift in the U.S. House of Representatives, but large enough to give the Republicans a majority. In the Senate, none of the Democrat incumbents lost their seats and one Republican seat was won by Democrats.
In the Senate, the one vote shift did give the Democrats a stronger position there. During the first 2 years of the Biden Administration, Democrats and Republicans each had 50 senators. Democrats held control of the Senate only because a 50/50 vote tie would be broken by Vice President Harris, a Democrat. However, all committees had an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. This gave the Republicans more influence in terms of whether or not bills could be moved out of committee to be voted upon by the full Senate. After the election, however, since the Democrats have 51 senators compared to 49 Republicans, the committees are no longer balanced. Each committee has one more Democrat than Republican members. The margin still makes it difficult to pass legislation because if support for a bill is split along party lines, only two senators defecting can result in a bill being voted down.
The election result has given Republicans a 222 to 213* majority
Likewise, since Senate rules require a 60 vote majority to bring any bill to a vote, the Republicans are still able to block most votes if they choose to do so.
On the House side, the minor shift has a more significant impact. The election result has given Republicans a 222 to 213* majority. This is still a small difference because it will only take 5 defecting representatives to vote down a bill that is split along party lines. However, the larger impact will come from the fact that the Speaker of the House will be a Republican. That person has total control over what bills come before the body for a vote. The Democratic Senate can pass a bill and send it to the House of Representatives where it may never be voted upon if it is the Speaker’s wish. The same thing is true of bills going from the House to the Senate. The Senate majority leader can refuse to take up the bill.
The two most impactful elements to the Republican majority in the House are:
1) The fact that all bills that impact the budget (spending bills) must begin in the House. The Senate cannot initiate spending bills. This gives Republicans the power to kill any initiative put forward by the Biden Administration simply by refusing to pay for it.
2) The change also puts Republicans in charge of all Committees in the House. They will take up whatever topics they choose to take up. For example, the Democrat House chose not to focus on the immigration crisis. Nor did they choose to investigate the accusation that the Biden family conspired to sell access to Joe Biden, a high government official.
Obviously these two changes will not be welcomed by the Democrats.
The fundamental result in the election is a split government
The fundamental result in the election is a split government. The financial markets generally like split governments because very little gets done. This means that there is little increase in spending unless it is for something that both parties agree upon.
Politically, my impression is that the anti-Trump sentiment is still stronger than the anti-Biden sentiment, even though nearly 75% of voters say they don’t like the direction that the Biden Administration is taking the country.
Looking ahead to 2024, the Democrats will be in a challenging position because more Democrat Senators are up for re-election than Republicans. Of the 34 Senators up for reelection, 21 are Democrats.
People may disagree with me on this, but I think that Trump will be a net negative on the Republican Party as long as he remains active in politics. Donald Trump does have a very strong group of core supporters. The question is, what will that core group do if Trump does not win the nomination in the 2024 race? Will they stay home and not vote? What will Donald Trump do? Will he run as an independent?
Trump will be a net negative on the Republican Party as long as he remains active in politics
There is also a strong group of Republicans that may appreciate the accomplishments Trump made during his term in office but they are tired of the drama. They just want him to go away. If Trump wins the nomination, what will they do? Will they decided not to vote? Whatever, I believe that the Trump effect will remain at least until after the 2024 election.
So what is a voter to do? Whether Democrat or Republican, those who embrace political principles will likely follow the advice of the late William F. Buckley who as a conservative suggested, “Vote for the most conservative candidate that can win.” The same advice could be applied to liberals. There is a pronounced split in the Democrat Party as well.
As for me, I am going to learn as much as I can about every candidate and then vote for the one who aligns with my principles “and can win.”
What do you think about the 2024 election?
*When the term begins in January 2023 Democrats will only have 212 seats due to the death of Rep. Donald McEachin, a VA Democrat, on November 28. His seat will remain open until it can be filled by a special election.