Democrats can ‘do a lot more in committee structure’ in new Congress: Analyst

Raymond James Washington Policy Analyst Ed Mills joins Yahoo Finance Live to explain what a 51st Senate seat means for Democrats in terms of policy changes, including the national debt and energy policy.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: We can officially squash the notion of any semblance of a red wave sweeping the country. Democrats have officially picked up one Senate seat with Raphael Warnock's win Tuesday night in Georgia. So now the math, tips to blue states, 51-49. So what are the political and economic consequences? Joining us now to discuss is Ed Mills, Raymond James Washington policy analyst. Good to see you, sir. Let's just give you a blank slate and start with the Senate. 51-49 is the new math. Biggest implications moving forward.

ED MILLS: Biggest implications in the Senate is the confirmations. And with the confirmations that the Democrats will be able to have of anyone that Joe Biden sends up, two things happen. One, in committee, it's not 50-50 in committee so you can easier get that to the floor. You'll actually have a majority in the committee. And then when it is in the floor, it's not that every single member of the Democratic caucus has a veto. That one vote kind of gap really allows President Biden to put up picks that will have an easier opportunity for confirmations.

And the final thing on the committee issue is that Democrats can have subpoenas they can do a lot more in the committee structure. Especially with Democrats losing the House, anything on oversight of Wall Street, oversight of big business, oversight of former president Trump, that will continue in the Senate, as it won't likely happen in the House with the Republican majority.

SEANA SMITH: And Ed, also, no one senator is going to have the veto power, which we so often saw over the last two years with Senator Manchin. When you take a look at what that means for the opportunity here, what this means for legislative policy going forward, how big of a factor do you see that being?

ED MILLS: Yes, Seana, so I put kind of legislation into two buckets-- things that must pass, and that's things like the debt limit. We're going to have plenty of brinkmanship on that next year, things like funding the government, not having a government shutdown. When I look at the House of Representatives, it is still a kind of-- trying to get to 218 is always the goal. The biggest change in the House of Representatives, besides the majority, is a shift away from proxy voting.

Speaker Pelosi had it easier the last three years because if someone didn't physically show up, you could still count their vote if they had told you in advance how they wanted to vote. Republicans are not going to do that. The other bucket are things that could be bipartisan compromise. In that, it's cryptocurrencies. Is this going to be the crypto congress? It's going to be a "tough on China" piece of legislation. Could you take some energy policy, like Senator Manchin has been proposing, as it relates to speeding up regulatory approval processes? So things from the middle are what could get done, outside of those kind of must pass bills that we discussed.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, the shiny object-- pun very much intended-- is crypto at the moment. Have to get something done there. Shortly, in the lame duck session, there was some optimism among cannabis companies that the Defense Authorization Act would include Safe Banking. McConnell took that out. Will anything get done in the lame duck?

ED MILLS: Yeah, so the Defense Authorization is going to continue its post World War II streak of the one bill that actually gets done every single year. We still have a continuing resolution on funding the government. That will absolutely occur probably right up against Christmas Eve. In that, we're looking at some tax extenders that are really important to businesses about the expensing of research and development expenses.

The cannabis banking, Safe Banking, could get still added into that bill. We're looking at a passage of an Electoral College Count Act. In that, funding for Ukraine funding for the hurricanes. So there's still a lot to get done between now and probably Christmas Eve here in DC.

SEANA SMITH: And when you take a look at what just happened in the state of Georgia, Herschel Walker losing senator. Warnock here being victorious in the state. What does this mean then for President Trump? Because President Trump was a huge-- was a huge backer of Walker. Does this essentially end his bid, do you think, for the presidential nomination in 2024?

ED MILLS: You know, Seana, it's way too early to kind of come to that conclusion. I certainly look at the midterm election results. And you talk about that red wave that was expected. There was arguably a red wave in Florida. It just crashed up against that Florida-Georgia line.

And so is that an opportunity for Governor Ron DeSantis to make a run at the nomination. We're going to see so many individuals who come out on the Republican side for Joe Biden. Does he seek re-election? If he doesn't, there's a whole long list, including probably Warnock, potentially on that list for Democrats.

So I just kind of warn folks as it looks to the 2024 presidential election, immediately after the midterms, conventional wisdom is almost completely wrong, as it relates to who will capture the nomination and who is likely to be the president. And I think that's probably going to be the case once again here.

DAVE BRIGGS: Meeting with an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, and suggesting we tear up the Constitution and undo the election, he's pretty much torching his chances and circling the drain, but we'll leave that aside for now. Over in the House, we're not sure if it's Kevin McCarthy's Republican Party or not, but this is a Republican House unlike anything we've ever seen. What is the direction there? Is it investigate Democrats? What do you think they hope to accomplish?

ED MILLS: Yeah, so absolutely, investigations are going to be a key part of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. They would also like to have a conversation about fiscal spending. Since the beginning of COVID, the United States has approved, Congress has approved $8 trillion more than we traditionally do. And so when we get to the debt limit, they want to have a conversation about the fiscal path that we're on, especially entitlements, which make up more than 60% of annual spending.

I do kind of look at them, and they want to replenish some of the money that has been spent on Ukraine to ensure that the US defense capabilities are there. They're very focused on kind of anti-tech or kind of antitrust issues, big tech, tough on China. You merge those together. Is there going to be something like a ban on TikTok that comes out of Congress that gets put on Biden's desk? Those are the things that I'm watching from the House of Representatives.

DAVE BRIGGS: There is some bipartisan agreement there with, in particular, over in the Senate, with Warner and Rubio agreeing on that package. Ed Mills, great to see you, sir. Appreciate you coming on.