November 10, 2020
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The results of the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections are in and the Jewelers of America Political Action Committee, JAPAC, had one of its most successful years yet.

(Updated as of 1/10/2021)


2020: A Big Year for JAPAC

The results of the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections are in and the Jewelers of America Political Action Committee, JAPAC, had one of its most successful years yet. The PAC provides a collective voice for the jewelry industry in D.C. and continues to build on its strong foundation. With both change and uncertain times, having relationships with lawmakers is more important than ever before.

Jewelers of America has prepared a summary of what’s changing and what’s staying the same on Capitol Hill and what it could mean for businesses.

Jewelers of America’s legislative counsel, Haake & Associates headquartered in Washington, D.C., kept a close eye on the historic 2020 elections for Congress and the White House, which took place with the unprecedented backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some races are still pending, here’s what we know so far.

Joe Biden Is the Winner in the Race for the White House

With wins in key battleground states, former Vice President Joe Biden won both the electoral and popular votes and will become the 46th President of the United States. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris will make history as the first female Vice President. Among key states, Biden won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona giving him 306 electoral votes.

JAPAC Success in Congress

The Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC) had one of its biggest years in terms of contributions and success. Many of the candidates supported by the PAC won their elections: 14 out of 17 House candidates and 7 of 8 Senate candidates. JAPAC is the only PAC that represents the fine jewelry industry in D.C., so success for JAPAC is success for jewelers.

The Senate is virtually tied with both Senate seats in Georgia going to Democrats in run-off elections held on January 5. The Georgia seats were decisive in giving the Democrats the majority, with Vice President-Elect Harris becoming the tiebreaker for Democrats. In the House, Democrats will hold their majority, but so far Republicans have made a net gain of 9 seats.

With all races now decided in the Senate and 1 not called in the House, the composition of the 116th Congress as of January 10, 2021, is as follows:
  • Senate: 50 Republicans, 50 Democrats, 2 Independents (Independents caucus with the Democrats) (2 races undecided)
  • House: 222 Democrats, 211 Republicans (1 race undecided, the Democrats will retain their majority)

What This Means for Legislation & Regulation

President-Elect Biden has called for unity and signaled the desire to work with members on both sides of the aisle. On the Biden/Harris transition website, they highlight COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equality and climate change as their top priorities. With the Democrats winning control of the Senate, Biden will have a much greater ability to push forward his agenda.

Here are Haake & Associates’ insights into specific legislation that Jewelers of America is watching on behalf of its members:

Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) Accounting Method

Repeal of LIFO would deal a potentially fatal blow to companies in the jewelry industry that use the long-standing method of accounting for inventory. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have looked to it as a very favorable revenue raising option. As the new administration and congress look for ways to pay down the deficit while supporting Americans through the extended COVID crisis, LIFO could be threatened again.

Tariffs

Jewelers of America remains concerned about the impact of tariffs on jewelry products imported from China, including a 25 percent tariff on jewelry boxes and packaging. We have asked leaders in D.C. to continue to work toward fully ending the trade war. While President-elect Biden has not released specific trade plans, reports say he’ll be looking at the policies put in place over the last four years. He is expected to continue to pressure China and enlist other countries in a more unified campaign and promote “Buy American.”

Sales Tax Fairness

With the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision giving states the ability to collect sales tax from out of state remote and internet vendors, the playing field has become more level. However, states are still working out the kinks when it comes to state-by-state collection and there could still be the need for federal legislation to create a more unified approach. Realistically, it is not an issue that is top-of-mind for lawmakers and JA doesn’t expect the outcome of the election to have an impact, at least for the time being.

Help Jewelers of America Affect Change

You help us keep jewelers’ interests front-and-center in the nation’s capital on federal and state legislative issues. Learn more about JAPAC here, and help us take action in our Legislative Action Center.
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