On September 28th, Grant Berkshire, Senior Government Relations Associate at Integer, moderated a webinar on the upcoming midterm election that delved into its potential impact on the charitable sector. Panelists included Integer’s Sara Barba and Steve Taylor, and Stacey Rolland with Forbes Tate Partners.
The first major takeaway of the webinar: divided government looks very likely come 2023. Grant highlighted in his overview of the current electoral outlook the agreement among election forecasters that Republicans look primed to flip the House next month, while the Senate outlook remains more up in the air, with some forecasters giving Democrats a slight edge. Although, as Senate polling in key states like Nevada and Georgia tightens and given the possibility that polling errors undercounting GOP support levels persist, the contest for control of the chamber on election night could be very close. Regardless, Republicans flipping the House next month as expected will ensure a divided government come 2023.
A second key takeaway: in the event of a divided government with a GOP-controlled House and a Democratic Senate, we would expect to see lawmakers focus less on passing laws and more on other areas of authority, like investigations and confirmations. Stacey discussed how Republican House investigations would likely fall into two broad categories: actions of the Biden Administration and political campaign issues in the private sector, such as so-called woke policies implemented by companies. In the Senate, Democrats would likely focus on confirming President Biden’s judicial nominees and seeking out areas of potential bipartisan compromise, with more moderate members again playing a crucial role in any legislation that makes it to the president’s desk. Finally, the Biden Administration, stymied by a partly GOP-controlled Congress, could seek to advance some priorities through executive actions, though Republican investigations could cause them to think twice about that.
The main takeaway on the charitable sector’s legislative priorities: to advance, it will be critical that legislation has broad bipartisan and sector support. To this end, Sara stressed that appealing to both sides of the aisle will be crucial for advancing the sector’s legislative priorities. Similarly, proponents of charitable reform proposals, like the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, will also need to find support from both sides of the aisle to have a chance at getting even narrower reforms enacted. This could be a tall task, as the deep divides within the sector over philanthropic reforms will scare away some lawmakers from endorsing legislation that could alienate some of their voters or donors ahead of the 2024 campaign cycle.
A final takeaway: a divided government could prompt a move back into more of an austerity mindset on Capitol Hill like we saw in the early 2010s post-Great Recession. For the sector, Steve said this would mean nonprofits will need to defend the gains it accrued in recent years, like program funding increases, if lawmakers consider spending cuts across the board. Despite the austerity shift, earmarks are expected to continue next year, even in a divided government, and will provide a continued funding opportunity for nonprofits. On other relevant dynamics nonprofits should be aware of as we head into 2023, some in the sector could fall within the GOP’s investigative agenda crosshairs if they are engaged in activities they view as advancing Democrats’ agenda or are party to any perceived spending abuses, likely around pandemic relief programs.
All panelists addressed how interested organizations should approach advocacy in the new year, given there will be more than 50 freshmen members of Congress. Some things to keep in mind:
- A new congress provides a great opportunity for organizations in the sector, with each new member trying to find their footing in Washington, presenting many potential champions for organizations’ priorities.
- It’s not too early to start building those relationships with potential new members in your area – before they arrive in Washington – especially if an organization has a near-term priority, like securing an earmark in FY 2024.
If you have any questions about where to start, the team at Integer is here to help. Please reach out to Grant (email@example.com) if you have any advocacy-related questions or would like to be connected with any of the webinar’s panelists.
A full recording of the webinar can be found below. Additionally, if you’re interested in someone from the Integer team discussing the midterms at an upcoming presentation for your organization, please contact Grant.