HPBA Presidential Transition and Election Report > Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
December 03, 2020

HPBA Presidential Transition and Election Report

As of November 25, 2020

The transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration has officially begun. During the last week of November, President-elect Biden began to name nominees to his Cabinet, including Antony Blinken for Secretary of State and Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary. We expect to see a steady stream of nominee announcements in the coming days on key positions for the Biden Cabinet.

Biden Picks for EPA and Department of Energy

 One administration announcement that HPBA will be following closely is for EPA Administrator. We are increasingly hearing that Collin O’Mara, current President of the National Wildlife Federation, is under serious consideration. O’Mara has strong Delaware ties as he headed up that state’s Department of Natural Resources and knows the President-elect personally. In addition, he has built solid bipartisan relationships on Capitol Hill in his advocacy work for NWF. Another contender is Mary Nichols, who currently heads the California Air Resources Board. In conversations we have had with individuals familiar with current internal discussions, it appears that CARB Chair Nichols may not be interested in leaving California for this position, but the situation is fluid.

For Energy Secretary, Dr. Arun Majumdar is a leading contender. Dr. Majumdar served in the Obama Administration where he was the Founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) and also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy. He is currently leading the Department of Energy’s transition team. Other names under consideration for the Cabinet position are Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, who was deputy secretary under Obama and has long been a Biden adviser; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination with a strong climate and energy focus; Ernest Moniz, Obama's second DOE secretary; and Dan Reicher, a Stanford University lecturer who had senior roles in President Clinton's DOE and served on Obama's transition team.


Control of the Senate Depends on Georgia

In Congress, control of the Senate rests with two runoff races in Georgia that will occur on January 5, 2021. Republicans currently hold 50 seats in the upper chamber and Democrats hold 48. Two scenarios could unfold.

  • Scenario One:  Democrats win both Georgia contests and the Senate would be split 50-50. Under this situation, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would break the tie on Senate votes.
  • Scenario Two: Republicans win one or both Georgia Senate seats and maintain control of the Senate with a split of either 49-51 or 48-52.

Noteworthy is the fact that Senate rules such as the filibuster will not be changed even if Democrats take both Georgia seats. The reason is that a majority of sitting Senators must vote to change Senate rules and Vice President-elect Harris would not meet that criterion. In addition, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has already announced that he would not vote for abolishing the filibuster.

The bottom line is that 60 votes will remain the standard for passing legislation in the Senate next year when the 117thCongress convenes, which will require bipartisanship to move any policy through the upper chamber.


Key Senate Committee Leadership Changes

Notable changes in committee leadership next year feature Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) moving over from his perch atop the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to take the gavel of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee. Senator Lisa Murkowski, current Chairman of SENR, is stepping down due to committee term limits. Moving in to chair the Senate EPW Committee is Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is a long-time champion of HPBA policy priorities including leading Hill efforts on NSPS to cosponsoring our national stove change out legislation.


House of Representatives

As the vote count marches on in the House, Democrats appear to be headed for a majority of 222 or 223 seats, which represents a 10 or 11 seat loss. This outcome is a long way from the 10 to 15 seat pick up that nearly every pollster predicted Democrats would secure. While Democrats will continue to control the House, this narrow majority leaves little room for Speaker Pelosi to maneuver and will encourage House leadership to pursue legislation that attracts support from both sides of the aisle.


As always, HPBA will continue to strengthen relationships with Congressional offices and build new ones with newly-elected leaders.


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