Washington D.C. Capitol Hill Update

Republicans appear to have won a narrow U.S. House of Representatives majority in the 2022 midterm elections, while final control of the U.S. Senate remains undecided.

Nevertheless, neither party will hold a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, which is needed to overcome a filibuster.

Given slight majorities in both chambers, nothing significant will become law without compromise in the House and the Senate.

This month, Congress will return for a “Lame Duck” session, a period of policymaking lasting through the end of the year.

Not all lame duck agenda items will find consensus, and some Republicans may also seek to punt or drop measures in anticipation of their 2023 House majority.

Items which may be addressed in the lame duck session may include the debt ceiling, Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations legislation, the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), federal permitting reform advocated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and year-end tax legislation.

The Credit Card Competition Act could also be addressed before lawmakers leave town for the Holidays.

In the next Congress, House Republicans plan to offer energy legislation to address permitting in order to increase fossil fuel production and other low- to no-carbon sources, such as renewables, small nuclear reactors, and hydrogen.

As Democrats support permitting reform to increase transmission to add more renewables to the grid, bipartisan cooperation on permitting reform is possible.

While Sen. Manchin and Democrats may seek to pass a permitting bill in the lame duck session, it remains to be seen if there will be enough support for final passage this Congress.

Democrats and Republicans remain polarized on environmental policy, limiting the likelihood of any real progress in the next Congress.

The Biden Administration’s investment in climate change and greenhouse gas regulation will continue to dominate energy and environmental policy. However, Republicans will seek to advance policies to support domestic industry and the expansion of fossil fuel development.

Republican efforts to lessen environmental protections will meet with near unanimous opposition from Democrats in the Senate, likely dooming efforts to pass such bills.

They would also face certain vetoes from President Biden.

Leadership of the House and Senate will soon meet to determine committee assignments and committee leadership for the 118th Congress. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are expected to be the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) are expected to lead the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) are expected to remain at the top of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are expected to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee

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