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November 11, 2020

The Senate and the House are in recess today in recognition of Veteran’s Day. The Senate will resume its session tomorrow.

Election Results

  • Democrats have officially retained their majority in the House, having secured the necessary 218 seats. There are 15 races that are still outstanding. Democrats lead in three races, Republicans lead in 11, and one race will go to a runoff.
  • The current composition of the Senate is 50-48 after both Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) won reelection. Control of the Senate will be determined by the two Georgia runoff elections on January 5.
  • Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that the state will conduct a full recount of its almost 5M votes by hand. Raffensperger cited the close margin and said that the recount’s goal is to build public confidence.
    • The recount is expected to be completed before November 20, when the state will certify the results.
    • President-elect Biden currently leads Georgia by 14,000 votes.


  • After a week of record-breaking COVID-19 reports, the nation hit another single-day record yesterday with over 135,000 new cases and 1,403 deaths reported. This morning, it was reported that the U.S. passed 240,000 recorded deaths from COVID-19.
    • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the state would limit gatherings to no more than ten people indoors and is requiring that any establishment with a liquor license close its indoor and outdoor dining at 10:00pm, starting on Friday. New Jersey implemented an identical measure, which goes into effect on Thursday evening.
    • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) announced that restrictions first imposed in March would be reimposed, effective tonight. Restaurants will be required to reduce indoor dining capacity to 50% and a 25-person maximum for indoor gatherings is recommended. Non-essential travel to and from 35 states is restricted.
  • The U.S. set a record for the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations yesterday, with almost 62,000 Americans admitted to hospitals. This number exceeds the previous high of 59,780 on April 12.
    • Health department officials in some states are sounding warnings regarding hospital overcrowding. The Hill quoted Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as cautioning that the state was near a “tipping point” that threatened to overwhelm hospitals in the state, and compared the situation to that of New York City in March.
  • In a departure from previous policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on the usage of masks. The update emphasized that wearing a cloth mask not only prevents spread of COVID-19 from the wearer, but that studies demonstrate they also serve as personal protection against infection.


General Congress

  • The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are seeking to wrap up negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the next few weeks. The path to enactment may be obstructed by President Trump, who has yet to concede the presidential election and is significantly changing leadership at the Department of Defense.
    • President Trump has said he intends to veto any version of the NDAA that includes provisions to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases.
      • Although there is bipartisan support across the House and Senate, Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) also opposes the provision and has promised to remove it from the final version of the NDAA.
      • A group of 37 Senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sent a letter to the Armed Services Committees urging the inclusion of provisions to rename bases in the NDAA. The Senate version of this provision would conduct a renaming process over three years, while the House version provides one year.


  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced a bill (S. 4885) to exempt Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) emergency grant advance payments from certain reductions.


  • House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agencies to put “partisan, controversial items” on hold as leadership changes during the transition.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will leave her position as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee as she is running for Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), who recently stepped down as Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, will fill the position for the remainder of this Congress.
    • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nominated Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) to serve as co-chairs of the Steering and Policy Committee in the next Congress.
  • Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Marcia Fudge (D-OH) is advocating to be chosen as President-elect Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture. Rep. Fudge would be the first Black woman to serve in the position and argues that people of color should not be limited to certain cabinet positions.
    • Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) has been widely viewed as the frontrunner for Secretary of Agriculture.
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is being discussed to be President-elect Biden’s Secretary of Transportation. In an interview, Rep. Blumenauer focused on how he could be helpful to the Biden Administration in Congress and did not rule out the position.
    • Rep. Blumenauer has consistently been dedicated to advancing alternative transportation policy.


  • The Department of Defense has recently experienced a large amount of turnover. Exits have included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Joseph Kernan, and Secretary Esper’s Chief of Staff Jen Stewart.
    • These openings have largely been filled by Anthony Tata, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, and Kash Patel.
  • The International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that U.S. industry is negatively impacted by steel fittings that are imported from India and Korea, arguing that they are sold under fair value and subsidized. As a result, the Department of Commerce is expected to issue antidumping tariffs on steel fittings from India and Korea and impose countervailing duties on India.
  • The Federal Reserve requested to join the Network for Greening the Financial System, a coalition working to ensure that the financial system can properly address risks posed by climate change.
    • Full membership requires support for the Paris climate agreement, which the U.S. is expected to rejoin under a Biden Administration.
  • The Department of Transportation released a regulatory filing discouraging the FCC from holding its planned vote on 5.9 GHz airwaves. As a reminder, the 5.9 GHz spectrum, also known as the Safety Band, is currently reserved for auto safety technology.
    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claims that the 5.9 GHz band is mostly unused and opening it up for other uses is a prime opportunity to improve Wi-Fi. The FCC is not expected to delay the vote scheduled for November 18.

Other News

  • George Mason University’s Global Antitrust Institute released a report on antitrust and technology. The report argues that the tech industry does not need its own regulatory agency and that additional action does not need to be taken against predatory pricing.
    • This report is in response to a report from House Judiciary Democrats and their proposals to change antitrust laws to better regulate the digital economy. It will likely be used by Congressional Republicans to further their opposition to amending antitrust laws.
  • Facebook announced that it will extend its ban on political ads for another month due to the runoff Senate elections in Georgia and “the ongoing conversation about the U.S. presidential election.”
    • A Wall Street Journal article reported that Google is also considering extending its ban on political ads.
  • The European Commission announced charges against Amazon for violating European Union antitrust rules, specifically by misusing data obtained from third-party sellers. The Commission opened another antitrust investigation against Amazon for giving preferential treatment to its own products and services.
    • House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) supported the Commission’s actions and urged the FTC to file similar charges.
  • ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, filed a petition against the Trump Administration’s order that ByteDance divest from TikTok, claiming that the order is unlawful. ByteDance has also requested a 30-day extension to finalize its deal with Walmart and Oracle.
    • As a reminder, the divestment order is set to take effect tomorrow.
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