This post was updated on Dec. 7.
NAHB Chief Lobbyist Jim Tobin provides an analysis of the midterm elections and what’s in store for housing in the new Congress.
Midterm elections are always a referendum on the occupant of the White House, and the 2022 midterms were no exception. With both parties well-funded by record-breaking campaign spending and both chambers of Congress closely divided, it did not take a “wave” election for either party to claim the majority; it was merely a question “by how many seats.”
The high number of early voting ballots and the counting rules in many states make election night more of an election season. Eight days after the midterm elections, Republicans were able to claim a narrow victory in the House. Democrats retained the Senate with a slim 51-49 margin, as the final Senate contest was called on Dec. 6 when Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Georgia Senate runoff election. The anticipated GOP wave never materialized, and the electorate is split down the middle.
What does this all mean for home building and housing?
Regardless of the final House and Senate tallies, any legislation with a prayer of being signed into law by President Biden must be bipartisan. While the next speaker of the House can likely wrangle the 218 votes needed to move legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) does not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. So the parties will need to negotiate and compromise to move important legislation forward in the next Congress, including housing legislation.
Housing has always been a bipartisan issue. High home prices have pushed ownership out of reach for most Americans and sky-high rents are punishing renters. The housing affordability crisis in America has become a top-tier political issue. As the Federal Reserve continues to tighten monetary policy and the housing sector faces a recession, Congress and the administration must turn their focus to policy solutions that lower the cost of building and allow the nation’s home builders to expand housing production.
NAHB is poised to work with the new Congress to propose bipartisan solutions to create more affordable and attainable housing.