The Race to November

The Race to November 

By: Paul A. Miller, IOPFDA Legislative Counsel 

For most of us we’re wrapping up our summer vacations, while Congress is just starting its six-week sabbatical back in their state and districts. As you know, Washington is not like any other place in the world and sure doesn’t operate like your business. Only in Washington can you take a six-week vacation with so much unfinished business left to address. Only in Washington can you work part-time during the week while the country faces so many current crises. That we say, is the Washington way. 

As Congress departs for the august recess, let’s take a look what is left on their agenda and how many days are left on the congressional calendar before voters take to the polls to decide who should control Washington for the next two years.  Congress will reconvene on September 13, which means they have two and a half weeks to complete any unfinished business before they leave again for the final dash to the campaign finish line. Then when they reconvene again on November 14, they will have just three weeks to wrap up everything before they leave for the year. All in all, 30 days left to complete a mounting agenda of priorities. 

For the past seven months House and Senate Democrats have been pushing hard to get a tax bill to President Biden’s desk with no such luck. One would automatically think it was the Republicans holding them back, but not this time. This year Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have been the thorn in Leader Schumer’s side. That is until now. After months of negotiations, it looks like Senator Manchin and Leader Schumer have struck a deal on a very scaled back tax bill that now has the blessing of the White House, House Democrats, and majority of Senate Democrats. That should mean the President and Democrats should get a big win and November election bump, right? Not so fast. Senator Sinema now is the new Joe Manchin. The Senator has not said whether she would go along with this bill, and it appears she may be following Manchin’s playbook – hold out until you get something big. That is exactly what Manchin did. In exchange for a tax deal, Senator Manchin received support from Schumer and the White House for completing 304 miles of a pipeline project that has been stalled. Senator Sinema may now be holding out for her deal before she agrees to support the bill. 

A lot of recent horse trading has eaten up valuable floor time and keeping Democrats from pushing forward with their agenda before they adjourn. Another factor impacting the agenda has been the rash of members of the Senate testing positive for COVID. This has kept Democrats from having the votes they need to pass bills they have had teed up ready to go. As Democrats recover from COVID, its Republicans now testing positive, which may be a positive for Democrats and their vote counts. 

So, as you can see, nothing is a given in Washington, especially this close to an election. When Congress returns in September, they will need to address voter concerns about gas prices that have reached over $5.00 a gallon in some areas. Yes, prices have started to come down, but is that enough to protect vulnerable Democrats in November or prevent a tsunami election fallout for Democrats? Time will tell. 

Congress has to pass critical Veterans healthcare legislation, which got hung up this week on a change that forced Republicans to vote against bringing the bill to the floor. Congress must pass an FY’23 budget before they leave for the year (if you believe they will do that, then I have some beach front land to sell you in Alaska). Congress also needs to pass its annual National Defense Reauthorization bill. Congress needs to address lingering issues of COVID-19 future funding and a rising number of monkeypox cases being reported in every state. These issues and the continued signs that a recession is upon us complicates the Democrats path to holding the majority in November. It has also emboldened Republicans as they continue to look to expand their takeover map. 

For their part, Republicans continue to play defense. Although Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been willing to give the green light to vote on issues like Veterans healthcare, the increasing of the debt ceiling, and last year’s infrastructure bill, McConnell has been able to block the most significant pieces of the Democrats agenda.  

Republicans are confident they will retake the House in November. The question today is by how many seats? They currently need five seats to flip the House, but if you believe the so-called experts, a Republican majority in 2023 could be 30-40 seats. That would be a big deal and cause for alarm for the White House. 

The Senate is a little different where Republicans are having to deal with Trump backed candidates finding that just having the former Presidents backing doesn’t mean a guaranteed victory in November. We are seeing in Georgia, where Herschel Walker, former NFL superstar is stumbling heading into November. The same goes in Ohio, where Dr. Oz is finding the path to victory has to be more than rhetoric and attacks. Unlike the House, every Senate race matters for Republicans. A one to two seat majority means continued log jam of an agenda.  

The other wildcard for both Republicans and Democrats is former President Donald Trump, who continues to flirt with the idea of running for President in 2024. For Republicans, a Trump announcement leading up to the November mid-terms complicates potential wins in swing districts. For Democrats, a Trump announcement is a blessing and could stem the potential losses if they can make the final weeks of the election about Trump and not issues like gas prices, supply chain, worker shortages, and inflation. 

So, while you continue to try and regain your footing from COVID lockdowns, Congress is more focused on protecting their jobs. While you worry about increased costs to your business and continued worker shortages, Congress is focused on trying to sell voters on ideas that get their votes. The results in November do matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican. What matters is what is the next Congress prepared to do to tackle the continued supply chain issues we face? Address workforce development programs and worker shortages? What is Congress prepared to do to limit a recession? And what is Congress prepared to do to help your business? 

IOPFDA has a growing list of legislative priorities and 2023 is going to be a big year for us. We have issues like GSA’s online marketplace, which will allow companies like Amazon to be a reseller on a platform they control. Congress pulled the rug out from under us by eliminating the Employee Retention Tax Credit early. We are still working to get GSA contract officers to implement a directive that allows you to increase your prices due to the rise in inflation. To date, this directive is not being carried out by contracting officers.  As we enter a recession, we will continue to see impacts to our businesses. The next Congress will have a Christmas list of ideas to appease every interest group out there. Our job is to make sure we continue to have a seat at the table pushing aggressively for your businesses. 

So, mark your calendars! Election day is only 12 weeks away. Make sure you get out and vote. Make sure you look at what your business needs and pull that lever for the candidate (Republican or Democrat) who we can count on in the new Congress. Pull the lever for the candidate who will be pro TTA. 

The race to November is on for both candidates and us. Let’s elect a Congress that is pro small business, and pro IOPFDA!