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Looking at Capitol Hill’s 2022 Calendar

“Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom do the dishes.” – P.J. O’Rourke

I had the occasion to meet and speak briefly with libertarian humorist P.J. O’Rourke and attended a book release at the CATO Institute in 2018 where he spoke about How the Hell Did This Happen? The book was an exploration of and attempt to understand the 2016 election. As you might imagine, it was not your typical book tour event. I remember it taking the entire afternoon for my face to recover from smiling and laughing at his observations and colorful, sometimes blue commentary.

O’Rourke published 20 books and countless articles full of keen observations on a range of topics, laced with his acerbic wit. He passed away in February but his was a truly unique perspective and a life well lived. Perhaps his best-known work is his take on how our government works in Parliament of Whores, in which he quips, “The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.” Indeed.

While it might be the case that legislation will slow in 2022, the same cannot be said for the regulatory calendar. The Biden Administration has made it clear that agencies will be moving forward with regulations in a number of areas affecting private clubs. In particular, the Department of Labor (DOL) continues to be active with regulatory activity related to the overtime threshold for exempt and non-exempt employees, independent contractors and heat illness prevention. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also moving forward with rulemaking that would repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and capture additional water features into the definition of navigable water under federal jurisdiction.

The National Club Association is engaged in all these issues and submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on establishing a standard for exposure to heat in indoor and outdoor workplaces. The NPRM provided little insight into the details OSHA is considering for a standard, so NCA’s comments were general in nature and focused on the fact that most clubs already make arrangements to address the issue without a standard in place. The comments also urged the agency to avoid rigidity in developing any potential standard and foster collaboration between employees and employers.

On the political front, things are hurtling toward wrapping up redistricting and the mid-term elections, which always influence conversations in Washington. While things can change by the moment, the principal issues voters are concerned with are crystalizing depending on who they voted for in 2020–with one notable exception: the economy. According to polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, both Biden and Trump voters ranked economy/inflation as the top issue determining who they will vote for in the 2022 mid-term election. Biden voters ranked health care, COVID-19, environment and abortion as their other top issues. Trump voters, on the other hand, ranked immigration, government spending, COVID-19 and health care as their top issues after the economy.

At press time, 31 House Democrats had announced they will not run for reelection this year. This is a significant number of retirements and many are in districts likely to flip in what most believe will be a tough election season for Democrats. At press time, Republicans are leading in generic congressional polls by an average of 3.4 points, which on the surface doesn’t sound like a lot, but historically Republicans have needed to be less than 4 points behind to maintain their position in the House. Being an average of 3.4 points ahead shows a strong likelihood Republicans will gain enough seats to retake the majority when the next Congress convenes in January 2023. Republicans will roll out a series of legislative proposals on major issues this spring and into the summer, aimed at explaining their plans to voters should they control the House. With President Biden’s approval rating sagging to Trumpian levels, Republicans will be looking to nationalize the election on the issues they believe him to be weakest: inflation, crime, immigration and education.

It’s shaping up to be a very interesting fall and I’m sure we’ll all be told by both sides of the aisle that this is the most consequential election in our lifetimes–come to think of it, so was every previous election. They’re busy saving the world after all. I just wonder who’s going to help Mom with the dishes.

Joe Trauger is NCA’s Vice President of Government Relations. He can be reached at [email protected].