January/February 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 1
by Phil Squair, Vice President, Government Relations, NEMA
Election Day is over. Now, the electroindustry must take stock of the results to anticipate what might be headed our way this year and beyond. My short answer: things are looking up!
For starters, Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20 as the 46th President of the United States. He has already started announcing his choices for key cabinet posts and other advisory positions.
The House of Representatives will remain in Democratic hands, albeit with a narrower majority. But while a majority of only one vote is needed to maintain control, House Democratic leaders will have their work cut out for them to make sure their caucus sticks together in the debates to come.
Notably, the U.S. Senate’s control is still up for grabs. We’ll know more after the two run-off elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. Democrats need to win both of these elections if they are to take control of the Senate.
Even with these caveats, we can draw some important conclusions about the elections’ impact on our priority issues.
A Biden Administration will come to power with big ideas about infrastructure, emissions reductions, trade policy, cybersecurity, and workforce protections. The President has significant authority to implement new policies either through the normal regulatory process or via Executive Orders. President-Elect Biden has already stated his intentions to use his prerogatives vigorously.
We can expect a shift away from the previous go- it-alone approach to prioritize re-engagement with allies and global organizations in the trade area.
However, this does not necessarily signal a reversal of the previous administration’s tariff policy, particularly considering Biden’s statements about globalization’s effects on American workers and manufacturing.
A key indicator of the new administration’s trajectory will relate to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). It should remain a cornerstone for trade in North America since it passed Congress with bipartisan support. Still, pressure for vigorous enforcement of labor and environmental provisions will intensify even as the agreement continues to operate.
A significant decision that should come very soon after Inauguration Day will be to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris Agreement leading to plans laying out future U.S. emissions reduction targets and associated regulatory requirements.
Federal action in this area should spur significant activity for the electroindustry in every NEMA Division. Grid modernization, electric vehicle infrastructure, building technologies and controls, lighting, and advanced manufacturing could all experience a surge of interest as policymakers implement programs to help meet U.S. commitments to reduce emissions.
In the lead-up to Election Day, NEMA published an Open Letter to All Candidates for President and the 117th Congress. The letter urged candidates to embrace pro-growth policies to reduce emissions, modernize and secure the electric grid, implement reasonable data-driven regulations, foster a future- focused workforce, and increase access to life- improving medical technology.
These will be the essential ingredients of any successful body of work from the Administration and Congress over the coming years, and NEMA will be right there to help them achieve these goals. ei
A Biden Administration will come to power with big ideas about infrastructure, emissions reductions, trade policy, cybersecurity, and workforce protections.