The tally now stands at 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats in the Senate, with four races yet to be resolved. While it seems unlikely, Democrats do still have a narrow, longshot path to taking the Senate. Control of each chamber has a dramatic impact on priority setting and bill passage, so I hesitate to get too far ahead of myself until we have some final vote counts for both the Presidential and remaining Senate races, but did want to send a quick note about timing and the issues we’ll soon need to tackle in DC. If bipartisanship (or pragmatism!) is possible, lawmakers may aim to pass a coronavirus stimulus measure and an omnibus appropriations package in the winter lame duck session, before the start of the new Congress and swearing in:
- December 14: The electors meet in their respective state capitals to formally vote for the President and Vice President
- January 3: The 117th United States Congress convenes with those members elected in 2020
- January 6: Electoral votes formally counted before a joint session of Congress; the President of the Senate Mike Pence formally announces the electoral result
- January 20: Inauguration Day (work on the inauguration stage at the Capitol actually began weeks ago)
Issues that Congress and the White House face in the coming weeks and months:
- Appropriations: Extension of FY21 Continuing Resolution or passage of FY21 Appropriations bills, in order to prevent a government shutdown
- Relief/Stimulus: Passage of a coronavirus relief bill (passage nearly certain, but size and timeline will be impacted by final election outcomes)
- Deficit: Beyond the immediate, a debate over the future fiscal outlook The federal government recorded a $3.1 trillion deficit in fiscal 2020, projected to total $1.8 trillion in fiscal 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Suspension of the debt ceiling expires next July, threatening a default on the federal debt if not extended.
- Infrastructure: Both presidential candidates made sweeping campaign vows to strengthen the nation’s roads, bridges, water, and broadband infrastructure, but our next President will likely hit the same speed bump that has plagued Washington for years: how to pay for it.
- Reauthorizations: Surface Transportation, National Flood Insurance Program, Water Resources Development Act
All of these must pass/likely to pass measures provide opportunities for passage of funding and policy items that matter to us, and I’ll be on top of them.