Opinion Articles

Opinion pieces by Alliance staff.

By: Andrea Bodine

After weeks of counting, the majority of races in the 2022 midterms have been decided, allowing for a clearer picture of what the 118th Congress will look like come January. What follows are our thoughts on the election results and their implications for the international exchange community. In short, the three key takeaways are:

1) This is as close to a status quo election as possible.
2) Familiar faces will remain on Foreign Affairs/Relations and Appropriations Committees, where leadership will mostly stay the same.
3) But, key departures from these committees, and of other exchange supporters across Congress, means new relationships need to be built and new champions developed.

 

1) The results of this midterm election are about as close to a status quo election outcome as is possible, with no strong mandate for either party. 

  • As expected, Republicans took over the House majority, but with a slimmer margin than anticipated (220 – 213 with 2 uncalled).
    • The House will vote on the new Speaker in early January with current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) the front runner for the role. Committee chairs and make-up will be officially decided after the Speaker vote. Given the narrow majority, committee ratios will also need to be confirmed early next year.
    • On the Democratic side, there will be a change in leadership with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) stepping down from the number one and two spots. Their potential successors include Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Katherine Clark (MA), and Pete Aguilar (CA).
  • Democrats have kept control of the Senate, which is now at 50-49.
    • The Georgia seat, set for a run-off election next Tuesday, December 6, will no longer decide the majority. If Sen. Raphael Warnock is re-elected, and the Democrats have a 51-49 majority, this would limit the power of either Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) to block the party from a simple majority.
    • Senate leadership will likely remain Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). As with the House, committee ratios will need to be negotiated due to the slim margins between majority and minority. However, if the seat breakdown remains 50-50 as it is now, there likely won’t be significant changes.

 

2) International exchanges continue to have strong support among returning Members of Congress.

  • For the authorizing and appropriating committees for exchanges, leadership will remain mostly the same.
    • Familiar faces Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) are expected to continue to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is likely to keep its leadership of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID).
    • It is also expected that the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) will continue to be led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who will switch roles to Chair and Ranking Member, respectively.
  • Other supportive Members on these committees that were re-elected include Reps. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), as well as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and John Boozman (R-AR).
  • Another notable Senate Appropriations Committee member, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), also won a tough re-election race and will be returning to the 118th next year. A key supporter on the Republican side, Sen. Murkowski was one of the original sponsors of the Exchange Visitor Program provision included in the appropriations bills since FY2018.

 

3) Key departures necessitate outreach and education to new faces and potential champions. 

  • On the House side, both the Appropriations Committee (HAC) and Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) will have 8 departures each in the new year. Some notable changes include:
    • HAC has 6 Ds and 2 Rs departing with 2 flipped seats of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).
    • HFAC is losing 4 Ds and 4 Rs, including Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Vice Chair on Foreign Affairs and longtime Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH).
  • Approximately 21% of Representatives (21 Ds, 1 R) who signed on to the Alliance-facilitated FY23 House appropriations letter supporting funding for exchange programs are not returning in the next Congress.
  • In the upper chamber, the Senate Appropriations Committee will face leadership changes. Both the current Chair, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ranking Member, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), are retiring. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who have both supported exchanges during their tenures, are expected to take over these leadership roles in January.
    • Leahy will be leaving an open spot on the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, along with another longtime exchanges supporter, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).
  • As of now, none of the Senators that signed the Alliance-facilitated FY23 Senate appropriations letter are departing. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) could be the only departure depending on the results of the Georgia run-off election next week.
  • Freshman to watch (for more information, see USGLC’s 2022 Midterm Election Analysis):
    • Senator-Elect Katie Britt (R-AL) has regularly expressed strong support for U.S. global leadership during her candidacy.
    • Senator-Elect John Fetterman (D-PA) has stated that the U.S. “should be engaging in preventive diplomacy, and proactively working with other countries to improve relations.”
    • Senator-Elect Peter Welch (D-VT) is a former House member who has supported exchange programs throughout his time in Congress.
    • Representative-elect Morgan McGarvey (D-KY) is a strong supporter of American global leadership.
    • Representative-elect Zach Nunn (R-IA) has advocated as a former national security official on why America must remain engaged in the world.

 

What will happen between now and January 3 when the new Congress is seated? As Senate Majority Leader Schumer said in a post-election press conference, “We are going to try to have as productive a lame-duck session as possible.”

Here are key priorities for the remainder of 2022:

  • With the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expiring in less than three weeks, finalizing funding for FY23 is a focus. Passing an omnibus for FY23 or another CR to prevent a government shutdown ahead of the holiday break will be the number one priority. Democrats will likely want to pass an omnibus while they still have control of both chambers.
  • The annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a must-pass bill that traditionally has bipartisan support. However, House Minority Leader (and likely future Speaker) McCarthy has suggested delaying the NDAA until after the New Year when Republicans have control of the House. If this happens, it would be the first time in more than 60 years that the NDAA was not passed before the start of the year.
  • Other priorities on Congress’ mind include the Respect for Marriage Act, which was already passed by the House and will be voted on this week in the Senate, as well as the bipartisan overhaul of the Electoral Count Act. With time running out, the latter may need to be tied to appropriations or the NDAA.

As we move into the New Year, we are looking forward to engaging new partners as well as familiar friends in the 118th Congress to share the power and impact of people-to-people exchanges.