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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There are lots of energy policy implications if Democrats have indeed pulled off a surprising sweep of Georgia's Senate races that hands them both chambers of Congress. As of 10am Wednesday, Raphael Warnock has defeated Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff is on track to beat David Perdue.

The big picture: Senate rules work against moving big bills without a supermajority (a topic we explored yesterday). But that said, the party in power controls the agenda and has some room to maneuver even with the thinnest possible margin.

Why it matters: Here are a few very initial takeaways if Democrats indeed have the majority...

1) Sen. Joe Manchin will be an important player. The West Virginia Democrat will run the energy committee, as every industry and environmental lobbyist already knows.

  • It's an intriguing dynamic. He's among the Senate's most conservative Democrats at a time when activists and progressive senators want to use this super-rare White House-Senate-House trifecta to yield aggressive moves.

2) Get ready to hear a lot about "budget reconciliation."

  • That's the procedural maneuver that allows filibuster-proof passage of policy measures with fiscal implications.
  • For instance, it's how Republicans opened ANWR to oil-and-gas leasing in a 2017 bill, with leasing revenues providing the needed hook.

3) The results will have a bankshot effect on President-elect Biden's executive plans.

  • Back in 2013 Senate Democrats got rid of filibusters for Cabinet nominees and a vast array of sub-Cabinet positions.
  • That will help Biden get his picks into place more quickly (just as it helped President Trump).

4) Get ready for more of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) — the mid-1990s law that was part of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America."

  • It allows filibuster-proof resolutions that overturn recently completed federal regulations, so look for Democrats to try and upend, say, EPA's new rules on how it weighs scientific studies.

5) Cars could be a big focus. Sen. Chuck Schumer, now poised to become majority leader, has previously floated a plan to speed deployment of electric vehicles that he vowed to push if Democrats won the chamber.

  • And Biden talks a lot about an EV charging infrastructure build out, so look for that to become a focus of an economic recovery or infrastructure package.

6) The results are a political Rorschach test. Last night the Sunrise Movement, a group on the left flank of the green movement, emphasized their voter mobilization in the Georgia races.

  • But neither Georgia Democrat ran on the Green New Deal. Look for moderates to argue the wins show the political merits of more cautious candidates.

Zoom in: A note from the research firm ClearView Energy Partners gamed out the implications if Democrats' won narrow Capitol Hill control.

  • Their analysis yesterday points out that Manchin could be in a "conflicted position because Democratic Party leaders would likely expect him to advance a green agenda."
  • But they also caution that "Manchin’s fossil-sensitive power broker status seems unlikely to be the only constraint on the green ambitions" of Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, given the razor thin margin in the House too.

Yes, but: ClearView nonetheless sees an opening for moving Senate measures including...

  • An economic recovery package that "includes robust incentives for green energy and transition technologies."
  • Tax policy changes that hit fossil fuel producers.
  • Use of the CRA, as we noted above.

Separately, a Wedbush Securities note this morning says a Democratic-run Senate is "bullish" for the EV sector.

  • "We believe a doubling down on EV tax credits and further consumer incentives and government initiatives around the EV sector will be on the horizon, which is a major positive for Tesla, GM, Fisker, and other auto players/EV supply chain[s]."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

General Motors puts Trump in its rearview mirror

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

General Motors (GM) is racing to prepare itself for a president and a world that takes climate change more seriously — and putting the Trump era behind them in the process.

Driving the news: GM yesterday announced an ambitious plan to end global sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. It's part of their wider new pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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