Senate Outlook for 2023
After a competitive Senate runoff race in Georgia, incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) retained his seat. This was particularly disappointing for Republicans hoping to maintain at least the 50-50 split after the midterm elections. Even though the red wave we were hoping for didn’t pan out, we can learn some lessons from this year’s election cycle and have hope for the future.
While Republicans only suffered a one-seat loss overall, it has a significant impact on the structure of the Senate. Currently, the Senate is split with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. With Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any 50-50 tie, Democrats held the title of “majority.” Every committee had the same dynamics with Republicans and Democrats sharing an equal number of members. However, in 2023, as a result of the Georgia race, the Senate Republicans will lose a seat in each committee. Democrats now have a solid majority and will have more control over the bills that are allowed to come up for a vote.
A one-vote majority is not ideal for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) because it means he will still have to negotiate with the more moderate members of his caucus to get things done, specifically Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ). Those two Senators were able to hold up legislation that the liberals and President Biden wanted earlier this year. In August, Sen. Schumer made a deal with Sen. Manchin to allow a vote on Manchin’s permitting reform bill in exchange for his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. However, opposition from Republicans and progressives kept the bill from coming up for a vote. Senator Manchin is now attempting, at the 11th hour, to get his bill added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As of this writing, it is unclear whether he will be successful but it is clear that Leader Schumer is not helping him. If Manchin learned his lesson, he won’t be so willing to negotiate next year on big-ticket items.
Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. In 2024, twenty-three Senate Democrats are up for re-election compared to only ten Republicans. Two of those Senators are Manchin and Jon Tester (D-MT) who represent red states. They both may be less likely to support the outrageous legislation that their party will want to push. If Senator Schumer and the liberals want any chance in holding the Senate after the next election, they must be willing to moderate some of their wackiest ideas, or face numerous defections. On the other hand, Republican moderates must also be kept in line to not give Schumer any additional votes he needs. Minority Leader McConnell needs to keep his caucus unified!
In order to retake the Senate in 2024, we must learn from the recent Georgia run-off and several of the other 2022 losing Senate races (like New Hampshire and Arizona). In order for these seats to flip, the GOP must pick the right candidates in the primaries. Candidates must be proven conservatives with the ability to articulate their views and defend them against hyperbolic attacks. Candidates must have confidence in their convictions. If a candidate claims to have upstanding character, but the way he lives his life says otherwise, we cannot be confident in his abilities to keep his campaign promises. We must be on guard for the meddling of liberal Democrats in Republican primaries. If your state has a Senate election in 2024, please start looking at the possible candidates now and let us know if there are viable conservatives who merit Eagle Forum PAC support. We can have the biggest impact in the primaries, and it’s never too soon to start evaluating the prospects!
Even though the GOP will still be in the minority in the Senate, the Republicans who replaced retiring Senators are more conservative than their predecessors. Eagle Forum PAC supported Senators-elect JD Vance (R-OH), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), and Tedd Budd (R-NC) are unapologetically pro-life and pro-family. They didn’t shy away from controversial issues during their campaigns. Whereas the Senators they are replacing — Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Richard Burr (R-OH) — often betrayed conservative values and scored low on Eagle Forum’s scoreboard. In fact, all three voted in favor of the (dis)Respect for Marriage Act as ‘lame-duck’ Senators!
Winning in 2023 may look different than we expected. Victory may not be the passage of good bills, but stopping the worst ones from advancing. We must encourage the GOP-controlled House to stop or amend any bad legislation coming from the Schumer Senate. This will require strong actions from the House Leadership and the Freedom Caucus. We will be vigilant in pushing for legislation that upholds the Constitution and against any that puts our children, families, communities, and country in danger!
Eagle Forum works constantly to educate our Representatives and Senators on pro-family policies and holds them accountable for their votes. We also want to continue to see strong conservatives elected in 2024. To join our efforts, visit our website at eagleforum.org to take action on upcoming legislation and make a donation to support our D.C. operations as well as our PAC.