2018 midterm elections: Policy implications for the 116th Congress

The dust has settled. In the next Congress beginning early 2019, Democrats will take control of the House, and Republicans have expanded their majority in the Senate. The split government undoubtedly will make many initiatives challenging, but the altered political landscape necessitates new strategies. What will this mean for the federal government, and the country as a whole over the next two years? Will Congress be in complete stalemate, or is it possible we could see bipartisan cooperation between the White House and Congress? Will Congress impose limits on President Trump’s executive authority? What can we expect to result from the oversight power of a Democratic-led House of Representatives?

Below is a link to valuable slides analyzing the election results and the likely Congressional agenda going forward. We would make just one introductory point:  despite a polarized political environment, bipartisan progress is possible in targeted areas. This may be particularly true under President Trump, who may find it in his interest to work with Democrats to further his agenda. 

Key areas of possible agreement (discussed further in the slides) include:

  • USMCA: The revised NAFTA agreement reached by the Trump Administration still needs approval by Congress to become effective. The agreement is entitled to expedited procedural consideration by Congress, making action more likely. A bipartisan vote almost certainly is required for passage.
  • Healthcare: Legislative action is possible touching on a wide range of health care issues, including drug pricing, the opioid crisis, and reforms to the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid.    
  • Privacy: Consumer privacy legislation is very likely to be introduced and progressed, potentially to include federal pre-emption of certain state privacy laws.  
  • Taxes: Congress is likely to agree on some extensions of expiring tax provisions, like renewable energy tax credits, and others tax provisions.
  • Infrastructure: There is bipartisan interest in a major infrastructure package, which has been a signature campaign promise of President Trump and a top priority of Democratic leadership in the House and Senate.  
  • Financial Services: Comprehensive housing finance reform, flood insurance reform and for-profit education reforms as well as intense oversight of financial institutions will be on the agenda in the new Congress. Democrats will also pass messaging legislation bills to ensure compliance with Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) regulation. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) will need to be reauthorized by Dec. 31, 2020, which is usually done in a bipartisan fashion. Bipartisan work on Ex-Im Bank legislation is also expected.  

We can also expect to see a significant increase in oversight and investigations. Democrats will be using the power of the subpoena to target not only the Administration and the President but to increase pressure on industries involved in key election issues such as drug pricing, cybersecurity and privacy, financial services, and the environment.

Read more: Download slides further analyzing the midterm results.


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