Election 2022—New Congress Starting To Take Shape

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While the dust has not yet settled (at presstime) on the 2022 midterm election, it’s safe to say that an early top line narrative doesn’t include a major “Red Wave” that many experts predicted for the mid-term election. That said, there were some important takeaways from Tuesday, November 8th elections. For one, voter interest and turnout were high, signaling that Republican and Democrat voters believed their vote matters. And across the board, candidates that lost their races conceded gracefully, defying some media predictions. A positive outcome.

Final election tallies for both Senate and House races took days to be reported. Control of the Senate was first to be announced when the Arizona and Nevada races were called for Democrat incumbents, giving the gavel back to the President’s party by a narrow 50-49 margin. Because no candidate received over 50 percent of the vote, Georgia declared a run-off for early December to determine whether incumbent Democrat Rafael Warnock could stave off a challenge from Republican Herschel Walker. Warnock was re-elected. Other closely watched races included a high-profile Democrat pick up a win in Pennsylvania, with John Fetterman defeating GOP candidate and talk-show host Mehmet Oz. Republicans, on the other hand, kept a hotly contested Senate seat in Ohio, when J.D. Vance defeated popular Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan.

Republicans laid claim to House leadership more than a week after the elections were held, gaining the magic number of 218 seats. Several races were still in limbo at press time, but we can say that the Republican majority in the House, like the Democrat majority in the Senate, will be by the narrowest of margins.

So what does all of this mean? The biggest impact by far will be in the House, where all of the committee chairmanships could potentially change at the beginning of the 118th Congress in 2023. Below is a snapshot of key committees for the Hardwood Federation and prospective new leaders.

The good news in the House is that Hardwood champions will be in key leadership roles regardless of the final vote tally.

•Longtime ally GT Thompson (R-PA) will serve as Chair of the Agriculture Committee. GT represents a heavily Hardwood forested area of Pennsylvania and knows our issues as well as anyone in Congress. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) is also a good friend and has chaired the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee in the past and will certainly be an important voice on our key issues;

•Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Jason Smith (R-MO) are in play to lead the Ways and Means Committee; both have worked closely with the Federation in the past. Influential members Suzanne DelBene (D-WA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are also well known to the Federation; and

•Bruce Westerman (R-AR) will have the top spot on the Natural Resources Committee. As the only forester in Congress, Mr. Westerman is uniquely informed and interested in Hardwood concerns. Jim Costa (D-CA) will also likely be a member of the Natural Resources and he and the Federation have developed a good relationship over the years.

In the Senate, key committee leadership positions are a win-win scenario for the Hardwood industry. Industry champions include long-time allies such as the following:

•The Agriculture Committee will once again be led by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with John Boozman (R-AR) as ranking member. This bodes well for moving priorities in the farm bill in 2023 as both are very knowledgeable about the wood products industry.

•Party leaders on the Natural Resources Committee offer another favorable scenario. Joe Manchin (D-WV) poised to take the helm next year with John Barrasso (R-WY) as the senior Republican member. Again, both are well known to the industry and are familiar with our issues.

So what’s next? Members of Congress will return to Washington in November and December for what promises to be an active “lame duck” session of Congress. Key items include consideration of an end-of-year tax package which may include an important deduction for heavy-duty equipment, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which promotes mass timber programs, and spending legislation to fund the federal government beyond December 16, the expiration date of the current “Continuing Resolution.”

The Hardwood Federation PAC—How Did Our Candidates Do?
Fortunately for the industry, the vast majority of those supported by HFPAC were successful in their bids for office this year, as of November 10. Of the 11 HFPAC-supported, senate candidates who were up in 2022, 10 have won or are expected to win their election bid, with only Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) race remaining undecided. On the House side, so far 49 out of 59 PAC picks will be returning to Congress in 2023. Unfortunately, five candidates either lost their primaries, retired, or in the case of long-time friend Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), sadly passed away during the campaign. Five others remain on the fence and therefore open the possibility of adding to the list of HFPAC winners as the dust settles on the mid-term elections.

The Hardwood Federation will be closely watching the election results as they trickle in and reporting the results through our weekly Cheat Sheet and Action Alerts. If you are not already on our list and would like to be added, you can do so at www.hardwoodfederation.com.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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