What impact will the election results have on the big issues facing independent agents? Whatever the outcome, the Big “I" federal government affairs team is well-positioned to successfully advocate on your behalf.
As of press time, the presidential election result remains uncertain. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats will maintain control, but saw their majority cut in half and will now have to govern with approximately ten seats separating the two parties. Republicans currently hold an edge in the race for control of the U.S. Senate, though its outcome will not be known until Jan. 5, 2021, when two Senate races in Georgia will be decided in a runoff. Those two Georgia Senate races could determine control of the Senate if former Vice President Biden wins the presidential contest.
For a further rundown of where the presidential election, Senate and House currently stand, please see our latest update from Charles Symington, Big “I" vice president for external, industry, and government affairs and Nathan Riedel, Big “I" vice president of political affairs.
Regardless of the outcome in the presidential election, Republicans look to have far exceeded the expectations of polling across the country. Even if Joe Biden hits the magic number of 270 electoral college votes in the days ahead, Republicans have made significant gains in the House and successfully defended many of their vulnerable seats in the Senate. This is different than the “blue wave" that many in the media predicted and will create uncertainty in the coming months in Washington, D.C.
What impact will the election result have on the big issues facing independent agents? In the short term, negotiations on a COVID-19 relief package will continue. And with control of the Senate still undecided but leaning towards Republicans, this relief will be smaller than Democrats had hoped for under the “blue wave" scenario.
The two parties will have to begin a serious negotiation to find some sort of compromise and it is too early to tell whether a deal could be struck in the lame duck session of Congress—where some lawmakers return for this session who will not be in the next Congress—or if it will have to wait until 2021, if at all.
Although a COVID-19 relief deal remains possible, gridlock is a distinct possibility when it comes to some of the candidates' biggest campaign issues. A Republican-controlled Senate would keep a President Biden and Senate Democrats from getting rid of the legislative filibuster, which means that Biden and Democrats would find it nearly impossible to enact some of the policies that would be most harmful to small businesses, such as independent insurance agencies.
The employer-sponsored health care system looks to be safe for now with Senate Republicans able to block any type of Medicare-for-All or public option type plan. With a divided government, more modest changes to health care policy, such as ending surprise billing, remains a distinct possibility.
Additionally, a Republican-led Senate would be able to largely protect the Trump tax cuts from any Democratic repeal efforts, even if Biden were to take the Presidency. With repeal potentially off the table and the 20% small business tax deduction scheduled to expire in 2025, future elections will play a crucial role in eventually deciding its fate. Again, all of this may depend on those two crucial Senate seats in Georgia to be decided on January 5, 2021.
Whatever the outcome ends up being, the Big “I" federal government affairs team is well-positioned to successfully advocate on your behalf. As information on the election continues to roll in, stay tuned to News & Views for information on how the outcome will affect independent agents across the country.
Wyatt Stewart is Big “I" assistant vice president of federal government affairs.