118th Congress brings new majorities, old divisions

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 9:46 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - With 2022 coming to an end, the world of politics is looking ahead to the New Year. A fresh group of politicians will take their seats in the 118th Congress, creating a new dynamic in Washington.

After two years of one-party control in Washington, Congress will now consist of a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House. The question looming is whether division or bipartisanship will dominate the narrative.

“The first three months of next year, we should all just kind of avert our eyes. There’s a tremendous amount of pent-up aggression,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Grumet says Americans should expect a bumpy start to the new Congress. But once the growing pains subside, Grumet argues there is room for cooperation and productivity.

“There will be some very angry moments, but there will also be some quiet, competent moments that I think will advance a national policy agenda,” said Grumet.

Grumet believes common ground can be found on issues like homelessness, mental health, immigration reform, and more, but he does not expect any grand legislative victories to go down in the history books.

If there are bipartisan wins, there is also a chance they will be eclipsed by other partisan matters. Georgetown political expert Mark Rom says the Democratic Senate will focus on approving judicial nominees, and House Republicans will focus on investigations on things like COVID-19, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the president’s family.

“I hope they spend more time on the important issues, and less time on Hunter Biden,” said Rom.

In January the House will decide its next speaker. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will have to convince his conference he is the man for the job, but with slim margins in the House it is not guaranteed, especially after a handful of far-right House members said they will not vote for him. But once a speaker is installed, Rom says lawmakers will have to decide if they want to be effective or obstructionist.

“Will the Republicans and Democrats decide to work together for our common interest, or will they go back to their partisan bases and simply oppose each other,” said Rom.

84 new members won election to the 118th Congress - 7 senators and 77 representatives. The whole Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2023.