While the dust from the 2020 election has not yet settled and will not likely settle for several weeks as you know, there are some highlights that are worth sharing at this stage. The 2020 election saw the highest turnout of Americans since 1900, with more than two-thirds of eligible voters casting their ballots.
Now to the outcome. What was anticipated to be a runaway victory for the Democratic party, ended up being much smaller than anticipated. President-elect Biden outperformed President Trump in key battleground states. On the Congressional front the outcome was mixed. Republicans, despite President Trump’s low approval ratings, were able to pick up at least six seats in the House and are better poised to turn it red in 2022. Republicans also held several Senate seats that were believed to be in jeopardy. Democrats will retain the House, albeit with a much smaller majority, while the fate of Senate control will be decided by special Elections in Georgia for their two contested seats.
Long story short, divided government will likely prevail, with neither party receiving anything resembling a mandate going into 2021.
What does this all mean for the composite panel industry? With a Republican-controlled Senate, any major policy changes being pushed by Democrats before the election would likely be thwarted and result in more tempered changes.
What may actually happen? A President Biden will issue Executive Orders reversing Trump Administration policies on immigration, trade, climate change, among others. Domestically, the administration will be more active on the regulatory front. Attempts will be made to reverse some Trump Administration policies, such as changes to rules implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, but these efforts take time and will be challenged in court. On the immediate horizon, however, is likely an emergency temporary occupational standard addressing COVID-19 protections in the workplace. Where the Trump administration issued guidance on this matter, the Biden administration will do a rule, which may be enforced at the state and/or federal level.
Are there policies that may benefit the industry? Yes, there should be some. Congress may pursue infrastructure legislation which could help ease transportation bottlenecks around the country. A focus will be placed on workforce development through the Department of Labor and community colleges, which could benefit industry manufacturers. Climate change policy could present an opportunity for the industry to press for common sense policies addressing the availability of raw material fiber and perhaps, create a mechanism for some type of credit for carbon stored in composite panels and downstream products.
We will continue to monitor developments regarding the anticipated transition in administrations and will provide additional thoughts and insights over the coming weeks.