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Republicans are very disappointed in the “red fizzle,” but they are still very likely to take control of the House of Representatives and they see a silver lining and a positive future in Ron DeSantis’s tremendous victory in Florida. The result has some parallels to 2020 when Democrats won the White House but lost seats in the House. There are clearly cross-currents in the electorate and neither party has a mandate.

It’s notable that the shots Donald Trump took at Governor DeSantis before the election had no impact at all. In fact, DeSantis was far the biggest winner on Tuesday. He won by a huge margin. He won Miami-Dade County. He won Hispanics. He won women. He won the suburbs. He now has a Republican supermajority in the state legislature. Florida was a purple state not long ago. It is as if the projected red tsunami occurred, but only in Florida.

House Republicans will meet on Tuesday to choose their leaders. These are simple majority votes amongst Republicans in conference, except for Kevin McCarthy who will also need a majority of the whole House in January to become Speaker. The narrower than expected majority means he may have to make some promises to various groups of members. Nancy Pelosi had to do the same thing a few years ago. Steve Scalise is fairly certain to be the majority leader, but there is an ongoing race for Republican Whip.

When it comes to committees, the key thing to remember is that Republicans have term limits for their chairmen, so we’ll have some new faces. The powerful Ways and Means Committee will have a new chairman, and there is a spirited contest underway for that. Cathy McMorris Rogers will take the gavel at the very important Energy & Commerce Committee. Virginia Foxx is favored to get a term-limits waiver to take back the gavel of the Education and Labor Committee, citing both precedent and strong support from her colleagues. Jim Jordan, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, will be chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Continue Reading A Quick Take on the New House Majority

It was a Republican President who inaugurated America’s openness to China 50 years ago, but it is Republicans in Congress who seem poised to begin closing the door. With the likelihood of a Republican takeover of the House and possibly the Senate in November, American businesses should prepare for a raft of anti-China measures that are likely to pass the House in the new Congress.

House Republican Leadership intends to include China decoupling legislation among its top 10 priorities in 2023. Unlike many foreign policy issues on which voters express little interest, this new decoupling fervor is being driven by Republicans’ most enthusiastic voters.

In one recent unpublished poll, almost half of Republican voters agreed that the U.S. government should prohibit American companies from doing business in China, and fewer than one-third disagreed. Three times as many Republican voters strongly agreed with this view than strongly disagreed, demonstrating that voter intensity for decoupling is high.

In a time of heightened partisanship leading into another divisive election, 26 Republican Senators sent a letter supporting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan – despite the fact that Pelosi is anathema to Republican voters. The subtext to the letter was that Republicans’ eagerness for a muscular confrontation with China trumps even election-year partisanship in some circumstances.

Continue Reading Republicans Likely to Push for Decoupling from China

Never in our decades of working on and around Capitol Hill and the White House have we seen as much anti-business sentiment among Republican lawmakers as we do today. And the trend shows no sign of abating.

There was a time when American corporations could count on unequivocal Republican support. To  be a Republican was virtually synonymous with supporting free market principles, capitalism and business. Republican President Calvin Coolidge once said, “the chief business of the American people is business.” Today, however, many Republicans scoff when they’re told that big business’ trade associations are for x or against y. They believe many companies have abandoned their trust in market forces for a “crony capitalism” that protects favored industries. Industries that profit from government programs are viewed with particular suspicion.

Conservatives say that it is not they who have moved away from business, but rather business which has moved away from them. Many Republicans see corporate America as lining up with the Progressive agenda on climate, ESG, mandatory vaccinations, sexual orientation and gender issues, voter ID laws, gun rights, speech restrictions, policing and abortion, leading them to believe that Wall Street is adverse not just to traditional values but also to conservative economic and constitutional principles. Social media companies have gained special opprobrium from Republicans for their content moderation policies, which they believe favor Progressives and suppress conservative content.

Continue Reading Republicans Are Moving Away from Big Business

Most observers expect the Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, in the upcoming midterm elections.  While both Democrats and Republicans are likely to keep their attention on the actions of so-called “Big Tech,” this political shift should bring a renewed focus on amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  Section 230, which provides platforms with immunity from liability for third-party content and content-moderation decisions, has been a target for lawmakers seeking to limit the power of large technology companies.  Republicans have generally focused more on modifying Section 230, versus Democrats, who have spent more energy on using antitrust legislation to regulate those platforms.

Looking ahead, now is the time to consider policies and plans in light of a Republican-controlled Congress taking on potentially divisive issues through the lens of Section 230.

Republicans, Conservatives, and Section 230

Two trends will guide Republicans’ approach to Section 230 in the next Congress.  First, as in many areas, Republicans will seek to address what they see as “woke capitalism.”  New York Times columnist Ross Douthat coined the term in 2018 and defined it as a “certain kind of virtue-signaling on progressive social causes, a certain degree of performative wokeness, [that] is offered to liberalism and the activist left pre-emptively, in hopes that having corporate America take their side in the culture wars will blunt efforts to tax or regulate our new monopolies too heavily.”

Republicans are already planning a variety of legislative and oversight maneuvers meant to address corporations taking certain positions on cultural issues.  Technology companies may very well be at the top of Republicans’ list.

Second, conservatives increasingly view liberals as having abandoned their commitment to free speech.  For example, Republicans view the Hunter Biden laptop controversy, campus speech codes, and social media content moderation as part of a broader effort to silence and marginalize conservatives.  Simply put, conservatives believe that they are now the defenders of free speech.
Continue Reading SECTION 230 IN A REPUBLICAN CONGRESS

If Vice President Biden’s election is confirmed, we anticipate a somewhat more assertive regulatory posture in certain areas to develop over time.

As some of you may recall, the Obama Administration was very active on nutrition issues. Participants will recall that First Lady Michelle Obama was very engaged on those issues.

One item that remains

The new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), outlined his plans for the Committee last week.  As we expected, Mr. Gowdy said that he would pursue more methodical investigations.  Noting that hearings are “an inefficient way to gather facts,” Mr. Gowdy said that the Committee would

With the announcement by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that he plans to resign from Congress on June 30, it appears increasingly likely that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will become the next Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the House’s powerful watchdog committee that has very broad investigative jurisdiction.  Although a final

The article below was published in The Hill on December 27th.

Congress, and particularly the House of Representatives, appears poised to assert itself in a way not seen for decades.

The legislative branch is seen by some as a weak institution, important mostly for its ability to influence the agencies of the executive branch (where

On his way out the door, then-Speaker Boehner did his best to “clean up the barn” for incoming Speaker Paul Ryan. Notably, he negotiated a budget deal with President Obama that, among other things, raised the top-line budget number for the FY 2016 appropriations process. The deal represented a compromise between Republican defense hawks who

The current turmoil in the House of Representatives is the culmination of a dispute that has been festering in Congress since the Class of 2010 was elected. That was the year of the “tea party” wave and the backlash against the Affordable Care Act. However, to fully understand it requires a look back to the