America woke up on Wednesday, November 4, with more questions than answers, more confusion than confidence. After a grueling election season, on top of a pandemic that had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, hobbled businesses and exposed bare the divisions in our country, clarity and certainty are what people craved. Deep into election week, millions of ballots in swing states were still being counted.
But, on Saturday, November 7, former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in his home state of Pennsylvania became insurmountable, and his popular vote and electoral victory were declared. As of press time, President Donald Trump has not conceded the election, citing potential voter fraud and a litany of lawsuits in various swing states. Nevertheless, a formal transition process has begun. Much has and will continue to be written about President Trump’s legal challenges and the implications they carry for future election standoffs. But, on January 20, 2021, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will become the 46th president of the United States. All told, President-elect Biden flipped Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia to get the electoral votes past the required 270 mark.
BOMA hopes that the Biden administration will continue to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program.
The incoming Biden administration has been vocal about its priority to tamp down the spread of COVID-19 and address its economic fallout, even as the virus begins to rage once again and, state-by-state, the case numbers climb. Biden’s tax plan outlines a few items of potential concern to BOMA members, such as the taxing of capital gains as ordinary income for high earners and raising the corporate rate ceiling. On the energy front, BOMA hopes that the Biden administration will continue to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, as well as a permanent and enhanced energy efficiency deduction for commercial buildings. While Biden’s administration will set the tone, much of the work in writing the policies will come from Congress. And, therein lies another source of political intrigue.
In the Senate, the Democrats failed to pick up the seats they had been hoping for in Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Iowa and North Carolina—gains that would easily flip the chamber. Instead, they lost one seat in Alabama and now have to wait for the people of Georgia to determine their fate. Two Senate runoff elections will occur on January 5 in the Peach State, leaving the chamber in limbo until then. Currently, the balance of power is 50 Republicans to 48 Democrats. If the Republicans win both Georgia Senate seats, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will cling—by a narrow margin—to his leadership of the chamber. If the Democrats manage to pick up both seats and the Senate is evenly split, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would serve as the tie breaker, likely handing control to the Democrats come January 20.
The U.S. House of Representatives will stay in Democratic hands; however, the party suffered some unexpected losses from its more moderate members. This situation potentially forces current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) into some difficult policy decisions in order to govern with the growing group of progressives in her party.
Coming into what felt like two solid years of campaigning, the Democrats pinned their hopes on an America that wanted a fresh start. The reality has changed that vision. Short of a clear mandate for change, there is no resounding majority in either the Senate or the House, forcing both sides of the political aisle to work closely to advance the cause of recovery and renewal. Change would not be the theme as 2020 comes to a close in Washington, but, perhaps, cooperation could be for 2021. At least we can hope.