Washington Update - May 2, 2022

Billy Moore    Dc2

In an election year, May is a consequential month for legislative and political agendas. If legislative items are not in motion by the Memorial Day recess, they are unlikely to pass before the November election. The primary election season begins in earnest with more than 30 key House of Representatives races on the ballot along with primaries for 10 Senate and 8 gubernatorial seats. The outcomes will help define the Republican Party’s potential for achieving 2023 congressional majorities and establish former President Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican future.

Last week, President Joe Biden requested supplemental funding for coronavirus response programs and to help Ukraine battle Russia. Democratic congressional leaders are wrestling with whether to combine the two appropriations and dare Republicans to vote against helping Ukraine and fighting Covid to force more stringent immigration enforcement. This week, the Senate will take 28 votes on non-binding instructions to conferees on the China competition bill, clearing it for negotiations with the House. Appropriations leaders began discussions on a framework for annual spending bills. Democratic internal discussions on a slimmed-down reconciliation bill continued to make halting progress. Each item needs to significantly advance this month.

A handful of congressional incumbents from both sides of the aisle confront possible primary defeats this month. More closely watched will the primary candidates endorsed by former President Trump; how his favorites fare will signal whether Republican leaders will be able to effectively manage the next Congress.

President Joe Biden’s standing was weakened last week as the Commerce Department reported U.S. output shrunk 1.4 percent in the first quarter, denting his claims to a robust economy. The report indicates a mixed outlook as consumers and businesses increased spending while inventories and international trade diminished. Should the report forecast a 2022 recession, the November outlook for Democrats will worsen significantly.