Election Fog Clears Slightly, Senate Still Cloudy

Lame Duck Expectations

This week, Senate Republicans released their versions of the FY2021 government funding bills and have started immediate negotiations with House Democrats to reconcile differences. Both parties are heavily motivated to reach a deal in the coming month and a half. Republicans need a win that will help keep their seats in the Georgia run-off, and Democrats are trying to clear the slate before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

This likely means there will not be any major surprises or changes to current law in the appropriation bills. It is possible that the funding bills could include additional COVID-19 relief funding, but talks are not far enough along to meaningfully predict. At this time, we do not expect significant changes to bankruptcy or collections law, such as were included in the House’s HEROES Act.  

Presidential Election

On Saturday morning, most media outlets began calling the race in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, based on his widening lead in Pennsylvania. If all results hold as they are expected to, Biden will win with 306-232 margin in the Electoral College.

Transition Uncertainty

President Trump is holding to his rhetoric that the election was illegally stolen, has outstanding legal challenges in several key states, and is refusing to concede at this time. His Administration, in line with this position, has not yet started to turn over the reins and start the official transition process. While this is not completely unprecedented—in 2000, the transition teams waited until the Supreme Court ruled for President Bush in December—it is unclear what President Trump’s exit strategy is at this stage.

In the meantime, President-elect Biden released his transition team, heavily drawing from former Obama-Biden Administration alums. According to reports, they are starting their work by convening with career employees at the various agencies and familiarizing themselves with the items currently being worked on within each agency.

United States Senate

Democrats succeeded in gaining one net seat in the Senate, narrowing the GOP majority. Because no Senatorial candidate received more than 50% of the vote in Georgia, both Senate seats will go to a runoff on Jan. 5, setting up a massive battle over which party will control the Senate. It is heavily expected that Republicans will keep at least one, if not both, of the Senate seats.

U.S. House of Representatives

There are around 20 House elections that have yet to be called, many in California and New York, where mail-in ballot counting continues for another two weeks. Most expectations are that Democrats will lose around nine to 12 sets in the House, giving them a much narrower 15-20-seat majority compared to the 30-seat majority they have now.

PACE, LLP is NACM’s Washington, DC lobbyist on federal issues that impact the business credit community.