The Washington Report

Nov 16, 2020 | What's New


CONTACT: Jonathan Lacock-Nisly


Washington, DC has been full of celebrations this week, as the District that gave President Trump just 5% of their vote bids him a not-so-fond farewell. On the Saturday after the election, as the major television networks called the race for President-elect Biden, Washingtonians took to the streets and partied into the night, ultimately buying more champagne than on the last two New Years combined

But what else happened in this election?

New Congress

House Democrats, who had been expecting their 232-197 majority to grow, instead saw it shrink to the smallest House majority in decades. Votes are still being counted in several races, but it’s clear that Democrats will have a very small margin for error. They will likely need the agreement of all but three or four members of their caucus to pass legislation.

Control is still TBD in the Senate, with Democrats failing to pick up expected victories in Maine and North Carolina. That puts the Senate at 50 Republicans and 48 senators in the Democratic caucus, leaving control to be determined by two run-off races in Georgia on January 5th. Whether or not Sen. Mitch McConnell remains majority leader will have big implications for what legislation is possible in 2021.

Lame Duck 

It could be an unexpectedly busy lame duck session, with negotiations over another covid relief bill ongoing. IPL and other faith partners have been speaking out on our vision for a faithful recovery for months. While a deal with some of our priorities seemed close in July and August, those talks ultimately fell apart. You can see our priorities for a faithful recovery here.

With the government set to run out of funding by mid-December, both parties have also expressed a surprising interest in completing a full budget process. Rather than passing another Continuing Resolution to keep funding at current levels for several months until the new Congress is seated, the current Congress will go through the full committee process to set the budget for 2021. We’re hopeful that any priorities not included in the covid relief bill can be funded in that budget.

Looking to 2021

What exactly Congress will be able to accomplish is largely dependent on the outcome of those Senate races in Georgia, but the faith community has already established principles for the new Congress and new administration. These principles will guide our shared call for climate action.

Shared FAITH Principles

  • FRONTLINE, vulnerable, and BIPOC communities must be supported first;
  • ACCELERATE the transition to clean energy and commit to net-zero climate pollution in electricity by 2035;
  • INVEST in climate resiliency and sustainable infrastructure;
  • TRANSITION our workforce to clean energy jobs with support and job training for workers;
  • HONOR Creation by following science and commit to net-zero climate pollution by 2050

From day one, we’ll expect the Biden administration to get to work on integrating considerations of environmental justice into all of the workings of the federal government, while also starting the regulatory process of reinstating the 100+ key environmental protections rolled back by the Trump administration.

Be sure to check back here for updates on that work, as well as legislative priorities for the new session of Congress. And to everyone who voted in this election with the climate in mind, a big thank you from Interfaith Power & Light!


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