With Congress leaving town earlier this month, Washington’s attention turns to the 2022 midterm elections. With all 435 House seats and a third of Senate seats up for a vote, the outcome of the November poll will determine which party controls each chamber in 2023 and 2024.

Republicans need to gain a net of one seat in the Senate to make Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the majority leader, and a net of five seats to make Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the first GOP speaker since 2018. While most political handicappers believe that the Republicans are likely to win a House majority, the Senate – which is currently divided 50-50 – is up for grabs. If you live in a swing state, like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia or others, you are likely to see a lot of political ads on TV for the next month.

The outcome of the election will not only determine how Congress legislates in 2023 – it also will impact to what extent Congress takes up unfinished business at the end of this year, when it returns for a lame-duck session. If Republicans win control of one or both chambers, they are likely to try to block or delay any final action on bills until January, when they take the reins. If Democrats keep control of both chambers, however, then they will push to get a lot done in November and December to “clear the decks” for new legislation in the new year.

So what is on Congress’ to-do list once the election is over?

Annual Appropriations. Congress’ last action before leaving DC was to pass a temporary stop-gap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, for the new fiscal year that started Oct. 1. The CR extends funding through Dec. 16, at which point Congress will need to either approve the 12 appropriations bills that fund government operations, or pass another short-term bill.

For the CRM industry, the big question regarding the appropriations process is the amount of funding provided for the Historic Preservation Fund. In July, the House approved providing $171 million from the Fund to support state and Tribal historic preservation offices and other preservation programs, $2 million below the current year’s level. The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed $191 million for the Fund, but has yet to approve the bill, much less get it before the full Senate for a vote.

ACRA and its partners in the preservation community are advocating that Congress provide an amount closer to the Senate’s number, recognizing that the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and last year’s infrastructure law, coupled with the steady increase in THPOs, means that state and Tribal preservation offices need more support to facilitate Sec. 106 reviews and other activities.

Permitting Reform – Out, But Maybe Not For Long. At the last minute, Congress dropped from the CR a proposal to reform permitting laws. The proposal, which was part of a broader deal to secure Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) vote for the Inflation Reduction last summer, would set maximum timelines for permitting reviews, streamline existing environmental permitting processes, and address “excessive litigation delays,” among other things.

However, the plan garnered opposition from both conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats, scuttling any chance of including it in the CR. That said, Manchin and other backers hope to attach the plan to another bill, possibly the annual defense budget bill that Congress is likely to pass before the end of the year.

Tax Extensions. The end of the year is typically when Congress votes to extend various tax incentives that are set to expire, and this year could be no different. One item that could be added to a tax bill is the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (HTC-GO), introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Darin LaHood (R-IL).

The bill makes permanent changes to the Historic Tax Credit that improve access to the credit, and enhance investment opportunities for smaller rehabilitation projects. Although the bill will have an uphill climb to make it into any end-of-year tax bills, the preservation community is working to get the legislation enacted.

Remember to Vote!

We don’t know how the election will turn out, much less what Congress will do once the votes are counted. What we do know is that the CRM industry has a stake in making sure that policymakers understand the value of CRM. That’s why ACRA continues to engage with lawmakers through direct lobbying and grassroots advocacy to elevate our positions in the debate.

Making our voice heard is just as vital on Election Day. Make sure you have a plan to vote. Visit vote.gov to register to vote, check on your registration, learn how to request an absentee ballot, and more.