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Could the Democrats Hold Congress? It Seems Possible Now

Will it all – the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS, Pact, and the abortion issue – be enough to help Democrats and Joe Biden hold Congress this fall? While it will be tough, it is not impossible.

U.S. President Joe Biden. Image: Creative Commons.
U.S. President Joe Biden.

The last year has been a slog for Democrats. The COVID pandemic has lingered, inflation is at a four-decade high, and the Afghanistan withdrawal was sloppy.

Accordingly, Biden’s approval ratings plummeted to historic lows – lower even than Trump or Carter’s (two one-term presidents).

In light of the malaise, pundits, myself included, were predicting that the Democrats – currently in control of the House and Senate – would be shellacked during the 2022 midterms.

It was not a very adventurous guess – history strongly suggests that the Democrats will lose in November.

But now, the Dems have a bit of momentum going; Biden just had the most successful month of his presidency. And the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, rescinding the right to an abortion, seems to be resulting in an anti-GOP backlash.

Could the recent turn in events help the Democrats salvage the midterms? Could the Democrats hold onto either the House, the Senate, or both? I’m not overly optimistic – but it’s certainly possible. 

Democrats Are Back? 

At the heart of the Democrat’s momentum pivot is the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law today.

Tweeting this morning, Biden said, “Later today, with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act into law, we make history.” According to the Senate Democrat’s one pager, the Inflation Reduction Act “will make a historic down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 30 percent by 2030.

The bill will also finally allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug prices and extend the expanded Affordable Care Act program for three years, through 2025.” The Dems are expecting the Inflations Reduction Act to result in $300 billion, or more, in deficit reduction – through imposing a 15 percent corporate minimum tax, bolstering the IRS’s tax enforcement ability, investing in energy security, and more. 

The Inflation Reduction Act comes on the heels of the CHIPS and Science Act, which Biden signed into law last week. CHIPS will commit over $280 billion to increasing semiconductor research while also increasing support for research and development in key tech realms like AI, quantum computing, advanced energy, and biotechnology. According to the White House, the CHIPS Act will make “historic investments that will poise U.S. workers, communities, and businesses to win the race for the 21st century. It will strengthen American manufacturing, supply chains, and national security, and invest in research and development, science and technology.” That’s pretty vague – but what the CHIPS Act is expected to do is make the US less dependent on semiconductor production from “geopolitically sensitive” locations (see Taiwan). But really, what CHIPS is about is keeping the US competitive with respect to China’s technological rise – a goal with widespread, bipartisan support. 

Biden also signed the PACT Act, another bipartisan bill, into law last week. “The legislation increases veteran’s access to medical care and disability payments for exposure to burn pits,” NBC reported. “It also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to presume some respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to the exposure, meaning veterans don’t have to prove they got sick because of the burn pits in order to receive compensation for their illnesses.” Initially, the bill stalled when Republican senators recanted their support over “unrelated expenditures.” The blowback against the GOP was intense, however, forcing them to cave and support the bill – offering Democrats a double-win. 

Biden and the Democrats are on something of a roll – certainly the most successful patch of Biden’s presidency. 

GOP Blowback 

The GOP is also facing a less direct, but perhaps more significant, form of blowback regarding abortion. When the conservative-majority Supreme Court voted to revoke abortion rights, it gave Democrats a major rallying point for the upcoming election. And, as Kansas voters demonstrated, when they voted ‘no’ to an amendment outlawing abortion, preserving abortion rights are popular – even in deep red states like Kansas. Democrats, as the pro-choice party, seem poised to benefit from the unpopular SCOTUS decision.  

Will it all – the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS, Pact, and abortion – be enough to help Democrats retain Congress this fall? Like I said, I’m not optimistic. Gas prices are still outrageous. Ukraine is still on fire. Democrats still insist on pushing deeply unpopular identity politics. Biden is still historically unpopular. Democrats are trending in the right direction – and may be able to salvage their congressional majority – but they are running out of time.  

Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.