The 116th Congress began Thursday, with the new Democratic Majority taking over control of the House with a 234 to 200 majority and Republicans maintaining control of the Senate by a margin of 53 to 47. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected to her second stint as Speaker of the House and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) became the Minority Leader. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) maintained their respective positions of Majority and Minority Leader in the Senate.
In meetings with Republican and Democratic offices in the House and Senate last week, there was little optimism regarding a way forward to end the partial government shutdown or finding issues where the now divided government can work together. House Democrats passed an omnibus appropriations bill last week on a partisan vote, and have now introduced individual funding bills that will likely be voted on this week, knowing the Senate will not take up the legislation until the impasse around the border wall is resolved. Of note, the House Democrats introduced disaster funding legislation including $480 million for reforestation of private land
in states that were impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Hill staff believes that disaster funding legislation will move once the larger government funding issue is resolved. Agencies that work on issues impacting the wood products industry, including the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of the Interior are not operating normally due to the partial shutdown.