I have received a number of emails and calls from members in the wake of Tuesday night’s midterm elections asking what the results will mean to chemical distributors. It’s a tough question to answer at this early stage, but there are a couple observations I believe will prove telling over the next two years as we embark upon the 2020 presidential election year.
First, several of NACD’s supporters unfortunately did not fare well on Tuesday night. Specifically, Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). These Members supported a number of issues important to NACD member companies. While it is tough losing folks like these, as with every election, there are now opportunities to develop relationships with newly elected officials by educating them on the importance of our industry to local communities throughout the country and the national economy.
Second, with the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Republicans increasing their majority in the U.S. Senate, we once again encounter the quandary of a divided government. Many are saying little will be achieved over the next two years when it comes to passing meaningful legislation that can be signed into law. With some House Democrats raising the specter of conducting investigations into the president’s involvement with Russia and Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warning House Democrats against “Presidential harassment,” Congress certainly is not off to a good, bipartisan start. Considering how contentious President Trump’s press conference was yesterday, I think it is safe to say that divided government will likely result in little over the next two years.
As someone who worked on Capitol Hill during the 1990s when President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich were able to balance the budget, among other things, there could be an opportunity for the president and likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address substantive issues such as infrastructure spending to improve American roads, rail, and airports. As the saying goes, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” We could see some type of alliance formed on a few issues that could be agreed upon early in the next Congress. Overly optimistic, you might say? Probably, especially when considering the toxic political environment that has existed and will likely worsen with potential investigations into the president.
While the forecast here is currently pretty bleak, we will have some avenues to push our legislative priorities through, especially if an infrastructure bill materializes or a larger spending package is needed to keep the federal government operating.