Legislative Update: Week of November 9, 2020

Nov 09, 2020


On Saturday, the Associated Press along with other national media outlets declared former Vice President Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election after exceeding the 270 Electoral College threshold needed to win, with three states yet to be called. With this victory, Senator Kamala Harris has become the first female, first Black, and first South Asian Vice President-elect.

In the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation Senate, Ed Markey retained his U.S. Senate seat, defeating Republican Kevin O’Connor, and Jake Auchincloss defeated Julie Hall to win the 4th Congressional District race to replace Congressman Kennedy. Regarding Massachusetts’ state elections, the Massachusetts Senate gained two new members and, with the defeat of Republican Senator Dean Tran, the Republican Senate caucus shrinks to three members. House incumbents with general election races won all but one of their re-election bids, and as a result of open seats, the Massachusetts House will have 17 new members joining in the 2021-2022 Session. MassBio President & CEO Bob Coughlin issued the below statement on the 2020 election:

“On behalf of MassBio, our Board of Directors, and our 1,300+ members across the life sciences, I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all of the elected officials who won their races, and especially to our newly elected officials President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Congressman-elect Jake Auchincloss, and the nineteen state legislators who will be serving for the first time. As a former elected official, I know how difficult and all-consuming running a campaign can be and how good it feels for that time and effort to pay off. We at MassBio look forward to working with the Biden/Harris Administration, our Massachusetts congressional delegation, state legislators, and local policymakers to create an environment across the country where science is trusted, life sciences companies can thrive, and patients can access breakthrough cures and therapies. When our industry and government work as partners, the potential is unlimited.”  

In Massachusetts on Thursday, the House Committee on Ways and Means released their FY2021 Budget Recommendations. Amendment 529, filed by Majority Leader Ron Mariano, seeks to extend the copay assistance sunset to 2023. Debate on this budget will begin on Tuesday, November 10th. Massachusetts has yet to approve a budget for the current fiscal year that began on July 1. The state is currently operating under an interim budget that will keep the state operating through November 30.


On Monday, Pfizer/BioNTech announced that their COVID-19 vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective when compared to the placebo arm. Before the companies can file for emergency use authorization, at least half of the subjects in the clinical trial must be monitored for two months. Pfizer expects to hit this milestone in mid to late November. MassBio President & CEO Bob Coughlin released the below statement on the news:

“Although we recognize there is still much work to be done, MassBio is incredibly encouraged about the early results from the Pfizer/BioNTech trials. The unprecedented speed with which the biopharma industry is developing COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines is a testament to the industry’s commitment to addressing our world’s most dire healthcare needs. It’s also a reminder of the critical role it plays in the health and wellbeing of our country and economy and we should all celebrate the scientific progress and innovation we’ve seen in the last nine months.”

Also on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden announced the launch of a COVID-19 task force, which is exclusively comprised of doctors and health experts, who will advise Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and the Transition team on its COVID-19 response. The Boston Globe reports that the “task force members will work with state and local officials to craft public health and economic policies to address the virus and racial and ethnic disparities, while also working to reopen schools and businesses, the transition team said in a news release.”

Debate begins this week on the Massachusetts House Ways and Means FY2021 budget. 777 amendments have been filed to the $46 billion state budget proposal. And, the Massachusetts Senate indicated on Monday that it will take up its version of the budget on Tuesday, November 17.

See all MassBio News