Skip to main content

9 Things to Know on the Legislative and Regulatory Landscape

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the WDMA reviews the legislative and regulatory landscape for the residential fenestration industry

Washington, D.C., has experienced record levels of gridlock and the upcoming presidential election may further challenge the ability for meaningful action. Amid political turmoil, the COVID-19 pandemic impacts federal and state OSHA regulations, which continue to evolve in response.

During GlassBuild Connect in September, Jeff Inks, vice president, advocacy, and Kevin McKenney, director of government affairs, both with the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, examined key issues facing Washington and the industry as a whole.

View the entire session on Free registration and log in is required.

Here are 9 key takeaways around the legislative and regulatory landscape:

1. COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Phase 4 of COVID-related legislation remains gridlocked. The House of Representatives passed a proposal that included small business relief funding, cash payments to individuals, state and local government funding, and more. The Senate, however, remains gridlocked.

On Oct. 8, President Trump called on Congress to pass COVID relief, including money for airlines, the Paycheck Protection Program and stimulus funds. The move came days after he shut down negotiations until after the election.

2. Energy Legislation

Congress has made efforts to pass energy legislation in previous years. There’s bipartisan agreement there are several initiatives that could help our energy policy and efficiency efforts, according to WDMA.

Building codes provision is an important issue for the WDMA. Language contained in legislation that pertains to energy codes and the way the Department of Energy participates in that code development process. WDMA supports alternative language that would be a better reflection and execution of DOE’s role in the building code development process and provide stakeholder engagement.

3. Legislative Outlook

WDMA predicts it will be challenging for Congress to pass anything with the upcoming election, though did note the Senate Republicans have enough votes to confirm President Trump’s supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

4. 2020 Election

McKenney predicts it will be a “nail biter” presidential race. In the Senate races, he says, tossup seats are almost all Republican seats, except for one Democratic tossup seat in Michigan.

The House will come down to the presidential race, he says. A “fair number” of Democratic seats now considered tossups, though the Republicans have some. Democrats have a sizeable majority in the house and McKenney predicts it would be tough for the Republicans to take it.

5. Trade

Section 301 tariffs pertain to China and are in reference to U.S. trade policy that deals with the protection of domestic intellectual property. The Trump administration has used this to go after China for unfair trading practices. This is currently subject to a lawsuit and worth keeping an eye on.

Section 232 Tariffs are in reference to steel and aluminum; President Trump used Section 232 with USMCA.

McKenney predicts we will see a softening of trade policies if Biden is elected. If Trump is re-elected, McKenney predicts a ramping up of trade policies, more tariffs and more efforts to re-negotiate several agreements.

6. COVID-19 Workplace Guidance and Regulations

Many states used Department of Homeland Security – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance to establish COVID-19 workplace restrictions and WDMA efforts helped to ensure manufacturing, supply chains and construction were included as essential.

States are now beginning to propose state OSHA regulations, and these are the ones likely to have infectious disease workplace regulations, says Inks.

7. Energy Star Version 7.0

WDMA has several concerns with proposed modeling, says Inks. They are expecting a Draft Criteria & Analysis Report, including responses to other discussion guide comments and proposing new criteria and program changes, in late 2020 or early 2021.

8. EPA Lead Renovation, Painting and Repair Rule

Even though this rule is 10 years old, it is still at play. Long-standing issues include lack of compliant test kits and “frivolous” enforcement actions. EPA is currently being sued to change the definition of lead-based paint, which would broaden the scope of residential construction covered and not justified.

9. Deregulatory Action

EPA issued a final rule on deregulatory action. Among its elements, the rule will establish the first formal petition process for the public to request that EPA modify, withdraw or reinstate a guidance document.

The Department of Labor issued a similar final rule that require notice-and-comment procedures for “significant” guidance documents, which also must undergo a review from the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.


View the entire session on Registration and log in is required.


Laurie Cowin headshot

Laurie Cowin

Laurie Cowin is editor of Window + Door. Contact her at