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There was a lot going on in politics in 2022, from the ensuing midterm elections to the landmark US Supreme Court abortion ruling and record-breaking migration at the southern border.
Meanwhile, the country is still trying to recover from the COVID pandemic, while preparing for a possible recession, as this year also saw high gasoline prices and skyrocketing inflation.
Here are just a few of the top political stories of 2022, in no particular rank or order:
Democrats are doing better than expected in the midterms
The federal government will be divided come the new year.
Unsurprisingly, the Republicans won control of the House, but the GOP will only have a narrow majority of four seats, and the Democrats held the Senate. The results were largely due to the intensity of opposition to the Supreme Court’s majority conservative decision to overturn Roe vs. Wadeand the many Trump-backed election denying candidates who were rejected in key seats and competitive Senate races.
The Supreme Court annuls the right to abortion
The conservative majority on the Supreme Court made its mark in 2022, shocking the country by striking down abortion rights in the US.
But that was just the headline. He’s also weighed in on gun rights, environmental regulations, immigration and more, and seems ready to take aim at affirmative action based on race with a decision coming in June.
President Biden appointed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first black woman to sit on the high court. But her appointment did not change her ideological balance, which she now leans decidedly in favor of the conservatives.
Inflation, gasoline prices reach highs
There are fears of a recession on the horizon, as inflation in 2022 hit decade highs. Gasoline prices and food costs have skyrocketed, and with Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, he put them in check in this year’s midterm elections. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates multiple times throughout 2022, tightening lending in hopes of curbing inflation. All of that had the effect of overburdening Biden’s approval ratings, which hovered in the low 40s for much of the year.
Record number of migrants at the southern border
Arrests along the border topped 2 million for the first time. It has caused political headaches for Biden and his administration, and has led to political stunts like the governors of Texas and Florida sending immigrants to Democratic-controlled cities and enclaves.
Meanwhile, there has been no movement on a comprehensive federal immigration review in nearly a decade in a country that has millions of immigrants living in the US after crossing the border illegally and massive immigration court delays due to lack of staff and funds.
A productive Congress
Despite a 50-50 Senate and legislative filibuster still in place, Democrats, and sometimes some Republicans, were able to do quite a bit in 2022, starting with the Cut Inflation Act, which tries to address climate change and the prescription cost. drugs; the CHIPS Law, whose objective is to promote the national manufacturing of semiconductor chips; to take a step toward protecting same-sex and interracial marriages with the Respect for Marriage Act; to reform the Electoral Count Law and finance the defense of Ukraine against the invasion of Russia.
Russia invades Ukraine
Russia’s move tested Biden’s ability to maintain NATO unity and obtain funds not only from the US Congress, but also from the governments of those other countries. Ukraine has held off Russia in a deadly war that has lasted since February.
More funding will be needed and was one of the main reasons Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his first trip out of the country since the war began, shrouded in secrecy, to the United States and addressed Congress this month.
Trump announces his candidacy for president again
The former president stayed long on the political scene and will continue to do so, whether his party leaders like it or not. Trump announced, too soon, that he will run for president again, just a week after Republicans underperformed in the midterm elections, with many pointing fingers at Trump why. Many of his endorsed candidates lost in the purple states, highlighting his political foibles.
He also remains under the cloud of multiple investigations: his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, was raided for the theft of classified White House documents; the Trump Organization found guilty of decades of criminal tax fraud; a special counsel is overseeing a federal investigation into the former president; and several years of his taxes were turned over to Congress and partially released on Friday.
The hearings of January 6
The tightly scripted hearings included never-before-seen videos and explosive testimony from people who participated in the deadly riots, local election officials and people who worked in the Trump administration or campaign in hopes of winning his re-election. They painted a picture of a then-president who inspired a crowd of his supporters to storm the Capitol and did nothing to suppress the violence for hours despite watching it all unfold and being urged to do so.
But many Trump supporters never saw. Instead, it was mostly Democrats and, according to polls, a slim majority of independents who paid the most attention and blamed Trump the most for what happened next. Now, with Republicans poised to take control of the House, the select committee will be disbanded and the two Republican members of the panel will not return to Congress.
Hurricane Ian and other weather related events
Extreme weather events and multi-billion dollar disasters continue to be more common than decades ago. This year saw the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Ian. There was a record drought in the West and low levels in the Mississippi River, along with extreme rainfall and flooding in other parts of the US. It’s all taking a toll on communities. And it means that local and federal leaders struggle in the short term to raise funds for disaster recovery and cannot coherently and unitedly prepare for the long term.
Mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo lead to gun legislation
This year again saw many more mass shootings. In two cases just days apart, 10 black people were killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and 21, including 19 children, in a shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas.
The incidents led to modest gun reforms being signed into law. It was the most significant gun legislation signed in decades, but that just shows how difficult it is to get sweeping changes passed at the federal level, like raising the age of who can buy certain firearms or whether the country could ever go back to an assault-style weapons ban. .
Other mentions: Other big events included the resignation of Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader after two decades, making room for New York’s Hakeem Jeffries and a new generation of party leaders. The year also saw political violence with Pelosi’s husband, Paul, attacked in her California home and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh attacked, prompting increased security for judges.