DC Tax Flash: Republicans Look to Hold Senate Majority

Tax Alert

Although the presidential election results are still being determined, it appears likely that Republicans will hold a narrow Senate majority in the 117th Congress. In the House, Democrats will retain control, albeit with a slightly smaller majority.

A number of potentially vulnerable Republican Senators pulled out victories last night, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Republicans also picked up a Senate seat in Alabama.

Democrats won key Senate races in Arizona and Colorado but need a net gain of three seats to win control of the Senate if Joe Biden wins the presidency. If the president wins reelection, Democrats would need four seats to wrest control of the chamber. In either case, it looks like Democrats will fall short.

Assuming the GOP retains its majority in the Senate, the tax-writing Finance Committee will still get a new Chairman in the next Congress. The current Chairman, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is term-limited by caucus rules and so must hand over the gavel at the end of the current Congress. (Sen. Grassley will remain on the Finance Committee but move up to Chairman on the Judiciary Committee.) Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is next in line to head the Finance Committee. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who last chaired the panel in 2015, will remain as Ranking Member.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee will see some membership changes, but Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is on track to remain as Chairman. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) will keep the top GOP slot on the panel as Ranking Member.

The Senate is scheduled to return to legislative session on November 9, 2020. The House plans to resume work on November 16, 2020. In addition to a potential virus relief package, both chambers will need to work on legislation to fund the federal government beyond December 11, 2020, when the current continuing resolution expires. 

Looking further ahead, state electors will cast their votes for president as part of the electoral college on December 14, 2020. The 117th Congress will convene for the first time on or about January 4, 2021. The next president is scheduled to be sworn into office on January 20, 2021.

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