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Post-Election Outlook in Washington

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

SEMA stands ready to advocate the interests of the aftermarket industry no matter what the prevailing political winds. The results of the January 5, runoff elections in Georgia shifted the balance of power in the U.S. Senate during the 117th session of Congress, as Democrats now control both houses of Congress along with the White House. Now is the time to pause and take a deeper look at what to expect from Washington, D.C., over the next two years. Despite Democrats taking control of the White House and the Senate, voters sided with Republicans in the House, where they picked up 10 seats. Democrats control the House and Senate by the narrowest of margins (a 50 Republican to 50 Democrat split in the Senate means Democrats will control the chamber starting on January 20, as the Vice President is the tiebreaker). This means that legislation will require bipartisan support in order to have a chance of becoming law, which will temper efforts to advance heavy-handed legislation related to taxes and the environment.

President-elect Biden will face the challenge of uniting a divided electorate as his administration works with Congress to pass legislation to help the economy recover from the damage inflicted by COVID-19. Millions of Americans are unemployed as businesses face an uncertain future, which is inextricably tied to getting the pandemic under control. Despite continued partisan differences over how to safely reopen the economy, Congress came together in the final weeks of 2020 to pass a $900 billion COVID-relief bill to stabilize the economy, which was coupled with legislation to fund the federal government through September. It is important that President-elect Biden and congressional leadership collaborate on passing a recovery plan that helps distressed businesses in a fiscally responsible way.

Finding common ground between Republicans and Democrats is no small task, as the divide between the respective parties is as wide as it’s ever been. However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Senate will retain its role as a moderating force. Additionally, the House will face a greater challenge in passing legislation given the slim Democratic majority and the diversity of thought within its party on most issues.

There are many factors that will impact the issues Congress chooses to prioritize over the next two years. A comprehensive infrastructure bill is expected to be a top priority for both Republican and Democratic leadership. With many roads and bridges in disrepair, an infrastructure bill is ripe for bipartisan consensus and is likely to be taken up this spring. It is also an issue of critical importance to automotive enthusiasts and SEMA members alike.

SEMA will use every tool at our disposal to defeat anti-small business policies, including proposed tax increases on business and consumers and efforts to increase the cost of healthcare. At the close the 116th congress, the RPM Act was left unaddressed, as was most legislation. SEMA will evaluate the best route forward to accomplish the aims of the Act. SEMA will also work to influence Biden Administration trade and tariff policy.

One important way SEMA members can help strengthen the industry’s ability to impact a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues is through the SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC). By law, SEMA is not allowed to use association funds to impact the electoral process. However, SEMA PAC allows employees of SEMA-member companies to contribute their personal funds to help elect lawmakers who support our industry’s positions and initiatives. Government rules require SEMA PAC to get each member company’s permission before it can ask for support. It’s a painless process known as becoming prior approved and it only takes minutes. To find out if your company is prior approved, or to become prior approved, click here. In fact, when you log on, the form is partially filled out for you. Becoming prior approved does not obligate you to contribute.

For more information on the 117th Congress and how SEMA Government Affairs is protecting the industry on Capitol Hill, please contact Eric Snyder, Director of Congressional Affairs, at