On Monday, the United States Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At this point, the confirmation seems like a bit of an afterthought as everyone in Washington, DC – and many across the country – are focusing on what’s going to happen on November 3rd. The stakes are extremely high as voters will select a President and the decide which party will control the Senate.
In fact, many voters have already made up their minds. More than 40 million Americans have cast a ballot in this election. This represents nearly 30 percent of the total number of votes that were cast in the 2016 Presidential election.
With the election ever-present in the background, work on Capitol Hill has largely ground to a halt. Negotiations between the White House and the House of Representatives on a COVID relief package have, to date, been unsuccessful. Just recently, Speaker McConnell announced that he does not support the framework and that he prefers to wait to negotiate a package until after the elections. This could set up a historic flurry of activity that could occur between November and the end of the year – a time period referred to as a “lame duck session”.
Isolation, stress, and uncertainty attributed to the current COVID pandemic have led to opioid-related deaths increasing recently. In fact, there were more than 50,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2019 and, reports show that overdose deaths may be as much as 11.4 percent higher this year. We continue to urge Congress will take urgently needed action, including by passing bills that have robust bipartisan support, like the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation Act (“NOPAIN Act”), including as part of any legislation that might be considered in a lame duck session.
This year’s lame duck session will undoubtedly be colored by what voters decide on November 3rd. If Donald Trump wins another term in the White House, that will have a major impact on the scope of activities undertaken in the lame duck. Similarly, if Democrats expand their majority in the House or potentially take over control of the Senate, that may also color some of the negotiations that take place in November and December. However, in any event, there is at least one – and possibly more – legislative package that will need to move before Congress adjourns for the year – legislation to keep the government funded, open, and operational.
Of course, such a deal requires cooperation from Congress and the White House and, depending on what happens on Election Day, coming to agreement on a package to fund the government – known as a continuing resolution or a “CR” – may also prove difficult. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens. The polls tell us that nationwide, Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading by approximately 8 points though some polls have it much closer than that. Additionally, polling in many of the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan appear to be much closer. Ultimately, the election will likely be decided in these states.
In other words, buckle up. It’s going to be an interesting and potentially historic few weeks. The stakes are high and there are a lot of people watching very closely.