Update and photo by TRI Lobbyist, Craig S. Brightup
There was no red wave because abortion was a factor in states like Michigan and races like VA’s 7th CD where Republican Yesli Vega came up short against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D), and Trump endorsed candidates underperformed in Republican-leaning House districts and winnable Senate races. Democrats also made this a choice election between Biden and Trump instead of the usual referendum on the incumbent president, and the “submerged” vote some thought would show up for Republicans turned out to be voters under 30 that went heavily for Democrats. As such, Democrats effectively exploited Republican weaknesses, while Republican takeaways are a 222-seat House majority; winning the national vote by over 3 million; and the continuing realignment of Hispanic, Black and Asian voters.
Agency Oversight and Workforce Development in the 118th Congress
Republicans will chair committees in the 118th Congress when it convenes Jan. 3. This check on the administration will be crucial for TRIA given the avalanche of bad regs in the pipeline from DOL, OSHA, NLRB, EPA, FTC, etc. However, divided government shouldn’t hinder bipartisan support for workforce development in an economy missing 3 million workers per the Labor Force Participation Rate. Also, though Democrats retain Senate control, the GA runoff matters because the Senate stays 50-50 if Herschel Walker (R) wins, giving Republicans equal committee seats, but if Sen. Warnock (D) wins the Democrats have a 51-49 majority. Regardless, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee which has jurisdiction over DOL and OSHA.
Lame Duck Session
The remaining days of this Congress must deal with a spending bill for the rest of Fiscal Year ‘23 because the continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running at FY22 levels expires Dec. 16. All 12 appropriations bills passed the House and Senate and negotiators are trying to reconcile them for an omnibus package through FY23. A tax title could be in the mix and TRIA signed a letter urging Congress to renew expiring provisions. Energy-efficiency tax incentives won’t be addressed because they were in the Inflation Reduction Act, but it would benefit TRIA members if a tax extenders package delayed the 5-year phase-out of 100% bonus depreciation (IRC Sec. 168k), and 5-year amortization of R&D costs that starts this year per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
End COVID National Emergency
On Nov. 15, the Senate approved a resolution by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) to end the COVID national state of emergency under the National Emergencies Act (NEA). President Biden said the pandemic is over, but the national emergency has yet to be ended by the White House. Thirteen Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the resolution which passed 62-36, but the White House threatened a veto. This is likely because the NEA gives the President powers to do things unilaterally such as delay student loan payments. Marshall indicated to me he’ll reintroduce the resolution in the Senate next year with a Republican House majority likely to pass it, too.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Labor Relations Committee
On Nov. 29-30, I participated in the U.S. Chamber’s Labor Relations Committee meetings. Subcommittees on the National Labor Relations Act, Immigration and OSHA dealt with many issues of concern to TRIA members, and the full committee featured segments with DOL Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda and National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. Their mission is to put language from the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in the regulations wherever possible, but it’s important to hear their justifications and have cordial relationships.