118th Congress Starts with Fireworks

By Cliff Andrews, CapCity Advocates 

The new year has started with a debacle for Republicans in the House, after multiple failed votes to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be Speaker. As of this article the final outcome is still unknown. While observers were certainly aware of some divisions with a handful of Republican members of congress over Rep. McCarthy, it was largely expected that he had a narrow path to win. Discussions continue and it is still likely that McCarthy will ultimately secure the votes.  

 

After an intense fall election cycle last year we reported that Congress was working on a comprehensive federal government funding package. Of interest to the NPA was the possibility of the inclusion of a cannabis banking bill that contained language intended to address de-risking stemming from Operation Choke Point. We have advocated for years for passage of this language although its connection to cannabis banking ultimately prevented it from being attached to the final omnibus spending bill over objections from a handful of Republican Senators.  

Looking ahead to this new 118th Congress we expect hyper partisanship and gridlock as both parties prepare to battle for 2024. As evidenced by the vote for Speaker, Republicans in the House will have to worker together and they will need to be unified to coalesce around their key policy priorities to secure passage of any legislation or they will have to cross the aisle to make concessions to secure Democratic votes. Many insiders are already predicting a possible government shut down this September when the next federal government funding deadline occurs. That being said, it is clear that both parties and both chambers will have to work together to get anything done. 

 

While Republicans will control the House with a slim majority, any bills they pass and send to the Senate will be dead on arrival unless they work with Democrats. Similarly, in the Senate under slim Democratic control, unless Democrats work with Republicans they will not be able to advance any legislation as 60 votes are needed under current Senate rules. We expect that Republicans will use control of the House to conduct oversight hearings and pass bills as messaging pieces for the next election and Democrats will do the same in the Senate. Perhaps it goes without saying, but with regard to hearings expect stark differences between House and Senate topics. 

 

In this dynamic landscape in Washington, D.C., the NPA will do what we have always done with a new Congress regardless of the balance of power: work in a bipartisan manner to educate the members (there are over 70 new members) and their staff about the crucial role pawnbrokers serve in their states. Now more than ever with so many competing interests pawn must make its voice heard. The Hill is back open for meetings so please make plans to attend the NPA’s spring legislative conference. This event will be the first time in three years so let’s represent! 

 

Cliff Andrews has 20 years of experience serving as a chief advocate and advisor to association clients on public policy, public relations, and mission-focused association management in an ever-changing political and economic landscape. Cliff currently is the Principal of CapCity Advocates, LLC, a federal government relations and consulting firm that he opened in 2004. Cliff works in a bipartisan manner before Congress, regulators, and private sector stakeholder groups on a variety of policy issues, including small-dollar lending regulation. He is a true “Washingtonian,” born and raised in the nation’s capital.

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