Last week, Americans went to the polls to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections. All of the 435 House of Representatives seats were up for reelection, and 35 of the 100 Senate seats (which included 1 special election). In addition, there were a number of key state races.
The Democrats have won a majority in the House, while the Republicans’ appear likely to grow their majority in the Senate. While NN4Y is still assessing the detailed implications of this election and the incoming 116th Congress, we do have a sense of the overall political impact and how it will affect youth and young adult homelessness and related issues.
Democrats have picked up 35 seats in the House. There are still 7 undetermined house races, but it is expected that Democrats will win nine of them. Republicans and Democrats both ‘flipped’ Senate seats. But with two undecided races (one recount and one runoff election), the Republicans have held their current 51 seat majority, and may grow that to a 53-47 majority.
This new Democratic majority in the House will bring a dramatic change in leadership of the chamber, as well as all of the committees. The incoming Democratic majority has indicated that they will focus on a range of economic issues such as protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as conduct oversight of the Administration on any number of issues.
The Republican Senate majority currently seems likely to win at least one of the two outstanding Senate races, and may end up with a 53-47 majority. This margin will mean the majority is less likely to need to appeal to more moderate Republicans when bringing bills to the Senate floor. Additionally, retirements and internal term-limit rules mean that some Senate committee chairmanships will change.
Divided control of the House and Senate will likely result in significant gridlock on a many issues. However, there may be opportunities for agreements on opioids, infrastructure and small tweaks to address widely recognized issues with ACA. Additionally, the outgoing 115th Congress is set to pass bipartisan budget reform legislation, which promises more predictability and less delays for future budget and appropriations cycles.
Some new Representatives, such as Angie Craig (MN-2), Sean Casten (IL-6) and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), have either stated their stances on issues affecting homeless youth and young adults or have a past history of supporting them. Senator-elect Krysten Sinema of Arizona has spoken about her personal experience with homelessness, and supported the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511) when the House Financial Services Committee approved the bill earlier this year.
Over the coming weeks, the NN4Y team will work to refine our advocacy plans for the new dynamics and membership of the 116th Congress. We will be actively working over the next few months to introduce ourselves and the issue of youth and young adult homelessness to all of the new Representatives and Senators. We look forward to building these relationships, and getting new champions for addressing this important issue.
We will continue our efforts to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, pass the Homeless Children and Youth Act, ensure appropriate federal funding for programs addressing youth and young adult homelessness and work with federal agencies to improve services and access to housing for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. The youth and young adult homelessness movement remains at a critical point for change. Together with our members, partners, funders and anyone concerned about this issue, we will leverage our opportunities to create lasting change.
NN4Y will continue to provide members with updates and information as the new Congress begins to take shape. If you have any immediate questions or suggestions, please contact Eric Masten, Director of Public Policy.
Perhaps now more than ever, we need each and every one of you to stand in solidarity with our Network. If you haven’t already become a 2019 member, we encourage you to do so today!