Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Voters Split Control Of Congress

Washington, D.C.—With enough seats decided, both parties chalked up victories in the midterm elections, with Democrats retaining narrow control in the Senate and Republicans flipping the House, again in what is shaping up to be a slim majority.

“It’s still a 50-50 country. They’ve given us a 50-50 government again,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), fresh off a successful bid to remain in his leadership post.

McConnell called for both sides to find issues “between the 40-yard lines that we can agree on and do them.”

“We need to make some progress for the American people,” he said.

President Joe Biden repeatedly has hit a similar tone in his post-election statements.

“The American people want us to get things done for them,” Biden said in a statement.

“And I will work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, willing to work with me to deliver results for them.”

They won’t have to wait until the new Congress convenes in January to see whether that message from voters was received.

With Democrats still in charge of both chambers in Congress and the White House, lawmakers face a significant agenda in the current lame duck session.

That agenda includes must-pass measures such as an appropriation package to replace a stopgap measure that is keeping federal agencies funded until mid-December and an annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

A widely supported biennial Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), an extremely important bill for the waterways industry, is expected to be inserted into the NDAA bill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has suggested that the NDAA should be delayed until next year because of certain “wokeism” provisions in the current version.

As late election results indicated that Republicans would take control of the House next year, top Democrats also began discussing adding to the lame duck agenda a debt limit increase and other legislation not expected to move smoothly under Republican control.

On top of that possible uncertainty, the Republicans’ underperformance in the elections added unexpected turmoil to their leadership elections for the new Congress.

McConnell quickly survived a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), in a 37–10 vote of their fellow Republicans, but a challenge by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) reportedly kept McCarthy to 188 Republican votes in his bid to become the next speaker of the House in the new Congress.

McCarthy will need at least 218 votes in January, when the full House elects the next speaker.

Nunan To Head USMMA

The Biden administration announced the appointment of retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joanna Nunan as the first woman to serve as superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).

A 30-plus year veteran of the Coast Guard, Nunan commanded units at every level. She is the 14th superintendent of the USMMA.

“Rear Adm. Joanna Nunan is the right leader at the right time for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

“Her years of experience as a senior military leader, including command at sea, have prepared Rear Adm. Nunan to shape the future of the USMMA and help ensure the safety and success of its extraordinary midshipmen.” 

A native of Bridgeport, Conn., Nunan graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1987 and received her Master of Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic.

She also obtained three Coast Guard merchant mariner licenses, including master of vessels of not more than 1,600 gross tons and third mate on vessels of unlimited tonnage. 

Disaster Response

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting comments on a proposed revision to natural disaster procedures to incorporate advances in risk-informed decision-making approaches and disaster response lessons learned and amendments to the Flood Control Act.

Comments must be received by January 17.

They may be submitted by Docket No. COE– 2021–0008 via www.regulations.gov; email at 33CFR203@usace.army.mil with the docket number, COE– 2021–0008, in the subject line; or mail at HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: 33CFR203/CECW– HS/3D64, 441 G St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20314–1000.

Due to security requirements, comments by hand delivery or courier will not be accepted.

For additional information, contact Willem H.A. Helms at 202-761-5909 or willem.h.helms@usace.army.mil.