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.

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 Projected Winner in the Race for the White House

With wins in key battleground states, former Vice President Joe Biden is the projected winner of both the electoral and popular votes to become the 46th President of the United States. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris would make history as the first female Vice President. Among the races called by the Associated Press in key states so far, Biden won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona giving him 290 electoral votes as of November 17. President Donald Trump had 232 with key wins in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio.

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 or were leading their elections as of publication: 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.

As of November 17, the Senate was virtually tied with both Senate seats in Georgia headed to run-off elections in January. The Georgia seats will be decisive in either retaining a slim majority for Republicans if they win at least one of the races, or an evenly split Senate 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 8 seats.

With 2 races undecided in the Senate and 12 not called in the House, the composition of the 116th Congress as of November 17, 2020, is as follows:
  • Senate: 50 Republicans, 46 Democrats, 2 Independents (Independents caucus with the Democrats) (2 races undecided)
  • House: 219 Democrats, 204 Republicans (12 races 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. Getting through big changes will be more difficult if Republicans hold the Senate, but gridlock may not be inevitable given Biden’s decades-long relationships with both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. Should the Democrats win 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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