Washington Update - May 23, 2022

Billy Moore    Dc2

As the Memorial Day recess approaches and legislative activity in Washington begins to wane, elements of the Democratic agenda are running out of runway. On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed two key priorities into law, a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill and legislation to address the infant formula shortage. 

The dwindling number of legislative days is imperiling the slimmed down budget reconciliation bill for climate, energy, and deficit reduction. The China competition bill, now the subject of negotiations among House and Senate conferees, is making progress that points toward enactment this summer. The funding bill to replenish depleted coronavirus pandemic accounts may have renewed prospects because of a federal judge’s decision to keep Title 42 restrictions on asylum at the southern border in place – making compromise on border issues easier for Democrats. Another infant formula bill could see Senate action this week.

Senators confirmed presidential nominations last week and will likely confirm several more prior to adjourning for the Memorial Day recess.

May primary elections, with more this week, continue a trend of Republicans growing more conservative and Democrats growing more liberal. The trend reflects a growing political polarization among voters. New district lines drawn this year seek to maximize partisan advantage – increasing the number of elections decided in primaries and vastly reducing the number of competitive districts in general elections. As candidates only need to compete for the votes of their party’s supporters, running from the less partisan middle is becoming a political liability.

With Republicans expected to take control of Congress in 2023, polarization will grow as Republicans in Congress attack President Biden, sometimes with support from Supreme Court Republicans. The forecast suggests two years of less bipartisanship and greater gridlock leading into the 2024 presidential campaign.

Your Updater will be out of pocket for a few weeks to return June 12.