Mid-term elections were held on Tuesday, November 4. As widely predicted, Republicans will take control of the Senate starting in January when the 114th Congress is sworn in. Between now and January, Congress will be working quickly to accomplish a number of legislative goals, including passing a spending bill for FY 2015. For more information on the impact of the election and advocacy actions you can take during this time, visit NAHRO’s Congressional District Contacts page to view a webinar that explains everything you need to know.
As of today, the Republicans control 52 Senate seats and Democrats control 46 (including two independents who caucus with Democrats). Two races are still undecided: Alaska and Louisiana. The latter will hold a run-off election on December 6. The House, also as expected, remains in Republican control. The combination of retirements and lost races will result in major changes for the committees with jurisdiction over housing and community development. The Senate Appropriations Committee will see as many as five members leave the committee, including three from the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will have as many as five vacancies. Additionally, Republicans will take control of the committees, which will change the leadership and shift both the priorities and the focuses of the committees. Committee assignments and leadership elections are typically held in the weeks after Congress swears in. NAHRO will provide full committee information once it’s available.
Despite the lower amount of turnover in the House, retirements from the Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Subcommittee will bring big changes to the subcommittee in the 114th Congress. The retirement of Chairman Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) will open up both leadership positions on the subcommittee. Given the retirement of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), the T-HUD subcommittee will see a 27 percent turnover rate.
Before the new Congress takes office, the current Congress still has an agenda to complete. All members, including those voted out of office or those who are retiring, will return to Washington next week to address legislative items that need to be resolved before the 113th Congress adjourns for the last time. This is commonly referred to as the “lame duck” session. NAHRO anticipates two high-priority items to at least be considered during the lame duck session: FY 2015 appropriations and tax extenders.
The current continuing resolution expires on December 11, forcing Congress to deal with spending during the lame duck. There appears to be a high level of optimism that Congress can pass an omnibus spending package rather than deferring yet again to a continuing resolution. Legislators also appear hopeful that a tax extenders package can finally be passed; many tax credits expired at the end of the 2013 calendar year, including the fixed rate Low Income Housing Tax Credits. A deal appears to be in the works to extend these credits.
Time is limited to deal with these issues, though. Congress will have only a few weeks to pass these major legislative items. NAHRO is planning several advocacy efforts on the omnibus and tax extenders, including a three-day push for an omnibus bill that includes funding T-HUD at Senate levels beginning on Tuesday, November 18.
The NAHRO Congressional Relations team has recorded a webinar detailing everything you need to know about the impact of the election and actions you can take during the lame duck session. To view the webinar, visit NAHRO’s YouTube page.