Washington Report: What Else Will 2020 Bring?

By Patty Power, ACPA Washington Advocate

When thinking about what to write for this issue, I kept coming back to, “What’s coming next?” This has been a tough year, with waves of major disruptors. Business needs certainty to plan for a strong future, and the country needs stability to support its citizens in their communities. The American people need stability and certainty to create a fruitful future for their families. Yet this year lacks both certainty and stability.

Enormous Challenges

2020 has presented us with unprecedented challenges, and we still have months to go.

The global pandemic: The coronavirus has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. and has infected millions. U.S. COVID-19 deaths are more than double the number of soldiers lost during the Vietnam War. The resulting economic distress caused by shutdown mitigation measures has ravaged the economy. While the COVID-related unemployment numbers have come down, unemployment remains extremely high. It is estimated that more than half of the small businesses that closed during the nationwide shutdown in the spring are now permanently closed

Civil unrest: The upheaval following the death of George Floyd has led to damaging riots in cities around the country.

Weather events: Mother Nature has joined the assaults, burning millions of acres in the West and threatening the rest of the country with hurricanes and tornados.

Any one of these conditions on its own would be considered major. Together, the impact is overwhelming.

Impact to Business

How will these 2020 challenges change how we do business? Will a post-COVID business world be more resilient, more risk-averse, more fiscally conservative, more self-sufficient? Will your company change its outlook on how to invest in its future?

Sustainability may be the new goal that everybody will be striving to meet—making sure your business can survive whatever comes along. But what does sustainability look like for concrete pumpers, and the concrete industry overall?

Some of the issues that will determine the answers to these questions include:

Technology. Broadband access must expand, especially in rural America, in order to meet the greater reliance on the internet to do business and live life, e.g., telework, attending class at home, maintain social connections.

Markets and globalization. U.S. trade policy limits trade and uses tariffs, and there is strong bipartisan support for re-shoring the U.S. supply chain.

Declining trust in our national institutions. Polls consistently show ever-decreasing trust in government, the press, big business and the medical system.


The current Congress reflects its electorate. The deep partisan divides and continuously shrinking number of moderates willing to cross the aisle increase the difficulty in legislating. At times, compromise seems impossible and the only thing Congress produces is gridlock. Will this change?

In the midst of all of this turmoil, registered voters will submit their ballots for the White House, one-third of the Senate, and the whole of the House of Representatives. According to the polls, the country is greatly divided, and this election will be decided by those voters who see themselves in the middle, in many cases—the independents in the swing states.

The pundits are busy now, just weeks ahead of the national election. Let’s look at the Senate. Currently, Republicans have 53 Senate seats. History tells us that 97 percent of Senate incumbents win when the presidential candidate wins their state, while only 70% of incumbents win when the presidential candidate loses their state. Republicans now hold eight of the ten seats in the closest Senate races. According to pundit Charlie Cook, only one of the eight is polling to win. Control of the Senate is very much up in the air.

Voter turnout will have a big impact on the outcome of the election. Turnout for the 2018 mid-term election indicates high voter enthusiasm, but COVID concerns could dampen that trend. Many voters, especially those at high-risk for coronavirus infection, are expected to vote by mail. President Trump has questioned the validity of election results where mail-in ballots are counted. These fraud allegations, along with reports of Russia, China, and Iran interfering through social media, have contributed to the finding that 59 percent of Americans lack full confidence in the upcoming national election.

Election outcomes are likely to take longer than one day to be finalized; it could take weeks. A large number of mail-in ballots will take longer to count. There also is a high expectation that the election results will be disputed, which will cause longer delays. This will be a very interesting election season.

Looking Forward

Here’s what lies ahead in Congress for the balance of 2020:

The budget. It’s likely that appropriations legislation will extend past the election, so that will heavily influence the next step.

The next COVID bill. This is unlikely to occur before election, but very possible after the election.

National Defense Authorization Act. This one will pass after the election.

Surface transportation reauthorization. This is likely to extend for a year, punting reforms to the 117th Congress.

Water Resources Development Act. This may pass soon, and if not before the election, then definitely after.

COVID. Here’s what may be in next COVID bill:

  • Additional financial help for small business, including an option to get a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program

  • Assistance for schools at all levels

  • Unemployment insurance assistance, although the level is heavily debated

  • Another round of direct payments to citizens

  • Additional healthcare facility assistance

  • Additional assistance to state and local governments

  • Liability protections

Stay Strong

I hope that you, your family and your employees are all healthy and managing well through this challenging year—and that your businesses remain strong and stable, like concrete…