By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
This has been a historic, if not unusual, midterm election season. Republicans have just secured a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will be the next Speaker of the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) are stepping down from their leadership roles, making way for a new generation of Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives.
The Senate remains in Democratic hands regardless of how the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia pans out, though a win by Senator Warnock would mean a net gain of one seat for Democrats that reduces the ability of moderates like Senators Sinema or Manchin to hold leverage over the Biden administration’s agenda.
What can we expect in the 118th Congress? The short answer is gridlock. With Republicans in control of the House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden will need to find some kind of middle ground with Speaker McCarthy. This is a Herculean task on matters unrelated to the federal budget or debt ceiling. McCarthy is in no enviable position, either. With a slim majority and a powerful core of forceful conservatives watching his every move to make sure he does not stray from party orthodoxy, there is little if any room to negotiate with Democrats on anything.
PHCC Legislative Affairs is focused on the rest of the 117th Congress, which needs to pass a FY23 budget by Dec. 16 to avoid a shutdown and keep the federal government funded into next year. With Republicans taking control of the House on Jan. 5, the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) needs to be attached to the final spending bill and passed by the end of the year. Otherwise, it will be at least another two years before the NAA has another chance at passage. Reauthorization of the NAA will not be a priority of House Republicans in the next Congress.
At the state level, Democratic victories for governor will make for an uphill climb in states where natural gas bans are on the agenda. PHCC has been paying particularly close attention to New York State, where Governor Hochul’s election to a full four-year term almost ensures any gas ban legislation coming out of Albany will get her seal of approval. That decision will be contingent upon a final report from New York’s Climate Action Council, which is expected to recommend a statewide gas ban similar to what was passed in New York City last year.
Beginning in January 2023, PHCC Legislative Affairs will be reaching out to newly elected members of Congress for an introduction to our industry and the issues that are important to us. Those issues include robust workforce funding, support for registered apprenticeship, and energy choice for consumers. We will continue to push for fuel choice legislation at the state level, fight back against gas bans, and work to preserve professional licensure. We will be hosting a webinar on these topics and more during our 2023 Legislative and Regulatory Look Ahead in January.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association