Happy New Year! 2024 will be a fascinating (and potentially nerve-wracking) year to watch the confluence of policy and politics in what will be a heavy policy year and an unprecedented political year. There are five big themes that will define 2024:
A Consequential Election: The election will be the focus for the upcoming year and will have outsized influence over the entire policy and political ecosystems. With the potential for power changes in the House, Senate, and White House, everything will be viewed through an election lens. While many are wishing the election was not on the horizon, it will be here soon enough and will dominate the headlines in the meantime.
Must-Pass Policy and Funding Debates: Most election years see a slowdown in policymaking, but 2024 will be a heavy policy year by any measure. With two funding deadlines, the Farm Bill, the NDAA, FAA Reauthorization, and several other “must-pass” bills (not to mention an aggressive regulatory agenda), Congress and the Administration will have their hands full on the policy front and could face some significant consequences for inaction.
Intra-Party Power Struggles: 2023 was defined by (largely Republican) power struggles; 2024 will likely see similar tensions within each party and factions that seek to define the election narrative and policy strategy going into an important year. This has the potential to be very problematic for those who cannot afford additional political risk. Narrow majorities empower small factions, and 2024 will highlight the divisions that exist and have become increasingly powerful.
Difficult and Politically Sensitive Policy: Every election year brings tough policy issues into focus, but this year they seem especially difficult to tackle. The growing border and immigration issues that are increasingly bringing bipartisan concern and the changing landscape around both Israel and Ukraine funding will both be on the agenda early in 2024. When you add a potential impeachment and continued prioritization around the economy (where voter perception remains inconsistent), expect significant headaches for policymakers.
Behind-the-Scenes Bipartisanship: It is hard to believe that bipartisanship still exists, but it does and will continue even in this election year. With razor thin majorities on both sides of the Capitol, nothing will move without a bipartisan majority. This means compromise will be on an unusual parallel track with political campaign season, but most incumbents have both a policy and political incentive to get things done this year and not have to justify inaction to voters.