COVID-19 UPDATE | THURSDAY, NOV. 5
November 5, 2020
- As the vote count in Georgia continues to come in and becomes much closer, it is likely that the result will be contested regardless of who is declared the winner.
- North Carolina will not have their final vote count until the end of next week, as ballots in the state can be received until November 12.
- Results from Pennsylvania are expected tomorrow.
- When the new Congress is sworn in on January 3, the final composition of the Senate will be undetermined with the makeup holding at 50-48 contingent on the final outcome of the two Georgia races.
- Both Georgia seats look like they will go to runoff elections on January 5. Note that the Georgia Presidential race is extremely close, and the runoffs will be an enormous focus for both parties.
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) won his bid for reelection against Republican challenger John James by 1.7%, solidifying 48 seats for Democrats with a net gain of one seat.
- In close Senate races in battleground states, Republican Senate candidates are consistently outperforming President Trump.
- Currently, there are 37 House races that have yet to be called. Democrats have 208 seats and Republicans have 190 seats, according to the Associated Press.
- Republicans have picked up eight seats thus far.
- Lame Duck: Elevate is optimistic that legislative work can and will get done over the next 7 weeks during the lame duck session, given indications by Congressional leadership. There is significant talk of an omnibus appropriations effort, COVID-19 relief, and the National Defense Authorization Act to be concluded this calendar year.
- Next Congress: While a Democratic sweep remains unlikely by all accounts, if that were to be realized it could yield even more opportunity for Congress to enact legislation. However, should Biden become President and the Senate remain in Republican control, we believe Biden and newly reelected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could work well together given Majority Leader McConnell’s history of bipartisan work with former President Barack Obama and his relationship with the former Vice President.
- Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that he would like to renew the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which both expire in less than 60 days, before the end of the year. Sen. Grassley’s timeline is driven by the fact that he is term limited as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and will depart the position to likely serve as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair next Congress.
- Chairman Grassley has introduced legislation to extend GSP through April 2022, which has been approved by Senate Republicans.
- Chairman Grassley reportedly plans to introduce an MTB bill soon.
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score for the Senate version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), based on the text that was passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee in May. The version of the bill scored by CBO would authorize new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restoration and Army Corps of Engineers projects, increasing the federal deficit by $2.4B over 10 years.
- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who is likely to be the next Chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee if Republicans maintain control, urged the Federal Reserve to end its COVID-19 emergency loans at the end of the year.
- Sen. Toomey voiced his belief that fiscal policy should be determined by Congress and the President, not the Federal Reserve.
- As a reminder, Sen. Toomey is not seeking reelection and will retire in 2022 at the end of his term.
- The Department of Commerce imposed preliminary duties on Vietnam for currency undervaluation, classifying it as an illegal trade subsidy. These duties are the result of a case by the United Steelworkers union regarding passenger car and light truck tires imported from Vietnam.
- The Department of Commerce released a report which found that imports from China increased slightly to $41.2B in September. This was the sixth month of increase since a low of $19.8B in March.
- The report also found that year-to-date exports to China reached $81.1B, compared to $78.6B for the same period of time in 2019. Exports were set to reach $194B in 2020 under phase one of the trade deal between the U.S. and China, though they will likely only reach $110B.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) sent its final rule on service animals to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rule makes it easier for airlines to ban animals other than dogs and to not allow emotional support animals aboard commercial aircraft.
- DOT requested comments from OMB on regulatory approaches to automated vehicles, which OMB will have 90 days to review. The regulations cover performance-based standards and modifications to federal motor vehicle safety standards.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that it will suspend the permit for Formosa Plastics’ proposed plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana.
- The plant would have focused on petrochemicals, which opponents said in a lawsuit would have only added pollution to a community that is already overwhelmed by pollution.
- The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) will hold a listening session on COVID-19.
- The session will discuss value-added services that provide transportation access, education support, food, and medical appointments to targeted populations. The session will take place on November 13 at 3:00pm ET. Registration information can be found here.
- The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the U.S. and Mexico had reached a deal on electrical transformers. Mexico will closely monitor electrical steel shipments in exchange for exemption from import restrictions.
- The Chamber of Commerce supported Majority Leader McConnell’s statement from yesterday on the passage of COVID-19 relief during the lame duck session and called for a package similar to the proposal that was released by the Problem Solvers Caucus earlier this Congress.
- As a reminder, that proposal was squarely rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic leaders.
- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urging increased federal oversight into Tesla’s automated driving technology. OOIDA argued that Tesla’s “full self-driving” tests put truck drivers at risk.