Last week, President-elect Joe Biden announced several of his key White House senior staff appointees. His team also announced that they would be making more announcements this week. In the interim, we await his choice for Treasury Secretary, which he has said should satisfy both moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party.
Capitol Hill Update
The House will convene for legislative business today as Members look to address key year-end priorities. Fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations and the National Defense Authorization Act face hard deadlines in December, and lawmakers will need to navigate several “poison pill” issues before an agreement on these items can be reached. Officials will also look to reach a consensus on another round of COVID-19 relief aid, as calls for additional legislation continue to grow. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to pick up negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the coming days and weeks ahead, as the Trump administration is reportedly stepping back from the pandemic relief negotiations. House Democrats and Senate Republicans still remain far apart on the size and scope of the next bill, and it remains to be seen whether a deal can be clinched prior to the end of the 116th Congress.
— TRUMP VS. BIDEN. Former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared President-elect by all the major media outlets after clinching victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada. President-elect Biden is also leading in Georgia as the remaining mail-in and absentee ballots continue to get counted or recounted. President Trump appeared to concede the race on Saturday, before apparently changing his mind and continuing to claim victory.
On Wednesday, November 11, President-elect Joe Biden tapped Ron Klain, former White House Ebola Response Coordinator and longtime adviser to the President-elect, to be his Chief of Staff. TRP Partner Paul Bock and Senior Vice President Gary Palmquist discuss what this means for the incoming Biden administration’s policy agenda.
Capitol Hill Update
Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to defeat President Donald Trump in the race for the White House after clinching victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Democratic nominee is also leading in Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona as the remaining mail-in and absentee ballots continue to get counted. Despite leading in North Carolina and scoring victories in Florida, Texas, and Ohio, President Donald Trump will fall short of the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win the presidency. President Trump has not yet conceded the race, however, and will likely push for recounts and legal challenges until the race gets officially finalized.
Although we do not know who is going to win the Presidential election next week, proponents of former Vice President Biden are once again putting their faith in positive polling, and so we are starting to see an increase of articles about the Biden Transition. In fact, Politico has a whole newsletter devoted to the topic. While these stories are either primarily blind guesses or driven by those vying to be considered (or perhaps a combination of the two), a clear narrative has emerged about how Progressives are keeping close tabs on potential nominees in order to root out the possibility of any whiff of impropriety (however they define it).
Capitol Hill Update
The Senate is poised to take up another targeted pandemic relief bill when the chamber convenes for votes today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week. The forthcoming package is largely expected to mirror the previous Senate GOP “skinny relief” effort, including business liability provisions and allocating roughly $500 billion toward unemployment insurance, health care, education, and small businesses. Much like the previous attempt to clear this measure last month, it is expected that all Senate Democrats, and possibly a few Senate Republicans, will vote against a motion to consider the legislation. Meanwhile, broader relief talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House officials remain at a standstill, as outlined in a recent “Dear Colleague” letter from the Speaker over the weekend.
Capitol Hill Update
While Senators on the Judiciary Committee convene for the Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced yesterday that no votes are expected in the lower chamber this week as Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration remain far apart on the next round of COVID-19 relief aid. After originally walking away from negotiations via tweet last week, President Donald Trump has since indicated that he wants to reach a compromise on pandemic relief aid prior to the Nov. 3. election. While the two sides did find common ground on issues such as health care and $1,200 stimulus checks in the negotiations, there is much work to be done on some of the key sticking points that have held up the negotiations thus far — namely unemployment insurance, state and local aid, and liability provisions.
While the House was scheduled to be in recess – albeit subject to a 24-hours notice to return for a vote if a deal on COVID relief gets made – the Senate was scheduled to be in town to continue to vote on Judges. Then three Senators tested positive for COVID and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that votes for next week would be cancelled. Leader McConnell then attempted to seek a consent agreement to meet in pro forma sessions until October 26th but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) objected. Leader McConnell will now try to reach that agreement again on Monday, though this time seeking pro forma sessions until October 19. While the difference between a pro forma session and adjournment is minimal, the latter does offer the minority protection against recess appointments by the President.
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that votes for this week would be cancelled and the Senate adjourned after three Republican Senators — Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) — tested positive for COVID-19. Leader McConnell originally sought a consent agreement to meet in pro forma sessions until October 26, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) objected, likely with an eye toward keeping vulnerable Senate Republicans in Washington and off the campaign trail. Due the new positive COVID-19 cases in the Senate, however, Leader McConnell will now try to reach that agreement again, though this time seeking pro forma sessions until October 19. While the difference between a pro forma session and adjournment is minimal, the latter does offer the minority protection against recess appointments by the President.