Looking at the stories and polls in the closing weeks of the 2022 election campaign, there is a growing consensus that Republicans will gain a majority in the House of Representatives, and Republicans could gain a majority in the Senate. If Democrats lose control of the House or both the House and Senate, Republicans need to temper their satisfaction, at least until January 2023.
If Democrats lose control of Congress, there is a danger that they may be willing to “go for broke” during a lame duck session before control of Congress passes to the Republicans in January 2023. The Congressional Democrats could try to pass as much of their agenda as possible during a lame duck session and rely on President Biden’s ability to veto any Republican efforts to repeal or amend such legislation after January 2023. And Senate Democrats could try to confirm as many of President Biden’s pending judicial nominees as possible before January 2023. Congressional Democrats defeated in November 2022 would have no fear of future rejection by voters to restrain or temper their support for a “go for broke” lame duck session.
If the Democrats try to use a lame duck session to “go for broke” before January 2023, then the current Senate Republicans need to be vigilant and ready to act as a restraining firewall. House Republicans do not have enough votes to stop the current Democrat majority in the House from passing “go for broke” legislation in a lame duck session. According to news reports, it is expected that Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) will resign to take a position in academia. If such a resignation occurs before the new Congress takes office in January 2023 and the Governor of Nebraska is slow in naming a replacement, it could be easier for the Senate Democrats to push for an aggressive lame duck agenda. Also, if Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is defeated for reelection, she would have little incentive to curb her tendency to be amenable to legislative proposals by Senate Democrats.
The one thing that might restrain Senate Democrats from pushing for an aggressive lame duck session is the fact that 21 seats currently held by Senate Democrats (and 2 seats held by Independents who caucus with the Democrats) will be up for election in 2024. Any votes made during a “go for broke” lame duck session could be raised against current Senate Democrats (and the Independents caucusing with them) who decide to run for reelection in 2024.
It is possible that Congressional Democrats might decide not to attempt a “go for broke” lame duck session before January 2023. But given the behavior and rhetoric of Congressional Democrats over the past few years, I would be surprised if they accept electoral defeat graciously or surrender control of Congress quietly.