After days of vote tallying across numerous states, former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, were declared the winners of the 2020 presidential election on November 7. The Trump campaign has filed suits to contest the election results, although it appears doubtful the president has a basis upon which to bring legal challenges.
In addition to the presidential race, several Senate races that could impact which party controls the chamber remain undecided. Senate races in North Carolina and Alaska have yet to be called. While incumbent Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) are projected to keep their seats, Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R) are facing runoff elections against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, respectively. The Georgia runoff elections are scheduled for January 5, 2021.
Republican wins in North Carolina and Alaska would bring the total number of Republican senators in the 117th Congress to 50, leaving control of the Senate to be determined by the outcome of Georgia’s runoff elections. If either Senators Loeffler or Perdue hold their seats, the Senate will have a Republican majority; both Republican senators losing their seats would create an even split in the Senate, giving Vice President-elect Harris the tiebreaking Senate vote.
Prospects for a coronavirus relief package being enacted before the end of the year remain unclear. The Senate returns to session on November 9, with the House returning the following week. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have signaled their desire to pass another relief package and finalize all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021 before the end of the year. Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) in September to keep the federal government funded until appropriations bills are passed (see Memo, 10/5); the current CR is set to expire on December 11. Congress will need to pass – and the president will need to sign – FY21 appropriations bills or another CR by December 11 or face a government shutdown.