2020 in United States politics and government

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In United States politics and government

Events in 2020 pertaining to politics and government in the United States.




  • February 1
  • February 2 – Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg responds to President Donald Trump's Twitter attacks during the Superbowl LIV. Trump called Bloomberg "Mini Mike" and attacked his candidacy for president after seeing a series of Trump attack ads put out by the Bloomberg campaign; the former mayor responded with, "I stand twice as tall as he does on the stage, the stage that matters."[75]
  • February 3
  • February 4 – President Donald Trump delivers his third State of the Union address. The speech has partisan overturns, as Trump refuses to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hand and she tears up the text in disgust at the end.[80][81]
  • February 5 — the US Senate voted on whether or not to convict the president on the charges and evidence as they were presented and debated upon.[82] The senators voted 52 to 48 to find President Trump not guilty on the charge of abuse of power (all 45 Democrats, independent senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King, and Republican senator Romney voted guilty). They voted 53 to 47, in a party-line vote, to find him not guilty on the charge of obstruction of Congress.[83]
  • February 7
  • February 10
    • New York Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) demands that Attorney General Bill Barr explain the Justice Department's special new policy for investigating allegations of corruption based on evidence provided by attorney Rudy Giuliani related to Ukraine. The existence of the non-standard channel of investigation was first revealed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on February 9.[86]
    • Construction begins of the border wall in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, destroying Native American burial sites belong to the Tohono Oʼodham Nation and threatening severe environmental damage.[87]
  • February 11
  • February 13
    • Attorney General William Barr says that Trump tweets make it impossible for him to do his job.[93]
    • Eight Republicans join Senate Democrats in voting 55–45 in favor of the Iran War Powers Resolution[94]
  • February 14 – Justice Department decides not to prosecute former FBI director Andrew McCabe.[95]
  • February 16 – Ivanka Trump praises Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries for the advances they have made on women's rights.[96]
  • February 17 – 1,100 former DOJ employees call on Attorney General Bill Barr to step down and for current employees to speak up against politicization of the department.[97]
  • February 18
  • February 19 – President Trump replaces acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire with the inexperienced ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell after Maguire's office tells the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that Russia intends to interfere in the 2020 elections.[102]
  • February 22 – 2020 Nevada Democratic caucuses
  • February 26 – Donald Trump files a lawsuit against The New York Times for libel for saying Russia supported his 2016 campaign.[103]
  • February 28 – At a political rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Donald Trump accuses the Democrats of politicizing the coronavirus and says the media are perpetuating a "hoax" as new outbreaks are reported in the United States, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.[104]
  • February 29



  • April 1 – In an interview on The View, Whoopi Goldberg asks Bernie Sanders why he is continuing his campaign for president. Sanders replies, "We are assessing our campaign, as a matter of fact, where we want to go forward. But people in a democracy do have a right to vote."[169]
  • April 3
  • April 4 – Wyoming Democratic caucuses and Alaska Democratic primary changed from in-person to a mail-in process[174]
  • April 6 – The Supreme Court turns down an appeal from a Catholic church in Washington, DC, that would have allowed them to place religious ads on public buses.[175]
  • April 7 – The Wisconsin primaries goes ahead as scheduled but absentee voting is extended until April 13.[176] Nineteen people were infected with COVID-19.[177]
  • April 8 – Bernie Sanders drops out of the presidential race.[178]
  • April 12 – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signs new measures into law aimed at expanding access to voting in the commonwealth. Election Day is made a national holiday, early voting is extended to 45 days, and the requirement that a photo ID is shown before voting is eliminated.[179]
  • April 13
    • Donald Trump claims that he has exclusive authority to end restrictions as the COVID-19 outbreak eases.[180] Joe Biden attacked Trump's comments, tweeting "I am not running for office to be King of America. I respect the Constitution. I've read the Constitution. I've sworn an oath to it many times."[181] Federal legislators of both parties pushed back against Trump's comments.[182]
    • Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president.[183]
  • April 14
  • April 15
    • A Texas judge rules that all citizens of Texas are eligible to request mail-in ballots based on disability if they fear contracting COVID-19 by voting in person. Republican lawmakers oppose the ruling and plan to appeal.[186]
    • The Georgia election board has approved drop-boxes for the primary election in June. Absentee voters will have the option of using the drop-boxes rather than paying for postage. Individual counties will have the option to use the drop-boxes or not, and they will have to pay for them.[187]
    • The Republican-controlled Kentucky General Assembly overrides Governor Andy Beshear's veto of a bill requiring government-issued voter-ID in order to participate in the November 3 elections. State offices that issue such IDs are closed.[188]
  • April 16 – A report published by Vice Media asserts that former Michigan governor Rick Snyder covered up and lied about the Flint water crisis. VICE notes that the Michigan statute of limitations runs out on April 25, 2020, for new felony misconduct-in-office charges related to the water crisis to be filed, although the Michigan AG's office disputes this deadline.[189]
  • April 19 – Republicans are pushing an anti-Chinese narrative about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, despite warnings from the FBI and Asian-American leaders about xenophobia and racism.[190] Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force has denied the theory of a laboratory origin of the virus,[191] and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said that the “weight of evidence” points toward natural origins.[192]
  • April 20
    • The Supreme Court rules 6-3 that criminal convictions require unanimous votes, rather than the 10–2 vote allowed in Louisiana and Oregon.[193]
    • Big restaurant chains are getting millions in subsidies earmarked for small businesses so long as they do not have 500 employees in a single location.[194]
    • Trump tweets that he intends to sign an executive order suspending all immigration to the U.S.[195]
    • The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholds the Texas ban on most abortions.[196]
  • April 21 – Authorities in Milwaukee link seven COVID-19 infections to the April 7 election.[197]
  • April 22 – Dr. Rick Bright, the head of the federal agency charged with overseeing the production of a vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic, says he was transferred "in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."[198]
  • April 23
    • The State Department announces a $12.1 million economic aid package for Greenland aimed at strengthening mutual ties and boosting a renewed U.S. push for a greater military presence in the Arctic.[199]
    • SCOTUS rules 6-3 that dumping polluted water into the ground does not make it miraculously clean and is still a violation of the Clean Water Act.[200]
  • April 27 – In a 5–4 decision, SCOTUS dismisses a case brought by gun-rights advocates in New York City that would prohibit transporting guns outside the city.[201]
  • April 29 – The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rules that Kansas cannot require voters to show proof of citizenship when they register.[202]




  • July 3 – Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at taxpayer expense at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, as social distancing is ignored and few mask are worn by the 7,500 participants.[279] A group on Native American protesters blocked the access road briefly before the event, and 15 were arrested.[280]
  • July 4 – President Trump makes a politically divisive speech from the South Lawn of the White House to commemorate Independence Day.[281][282]
  • July 5
    • A group of mostly Black, heavily armed protesters march through Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, demanding removal of the Confederate sculpture the park is best known for.[283]
    • Singer Kanye West declares his independent candidacy for the presidency although he has already missed several state deadlines and does nothing else to promote such a campaign.[284]
  • July 6 – Supreme Court of the United States: In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS rules that individuals elected to the United States Electoral College are not free agents and must vote according to the laws of their state, eliminating "rogue" electors.[285] In a 6–3 decision, the Court upholds the ban on most robocalls, including those with political messages, to cell phones.[286]
  • July 7 – One million foreign students risk losing their visas under new immigration rules that forbid them from remaining in the country if their universities offer only on-line classes.[287]
  • July 8
    • SCOTUS: The Supreme Court rules 7–2 to let more employers opt-out of the Affordable Care Act mandate guaranteeing no-cost contraceptive services for women.[288]
    • Democratic primary in New Jersey: Amy Kennedy will face incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) in New Jersey's 2nd congressional district.[289] Incumbent Cory Booker (D-NJ) survives against progressive challenger Lawrence Hamm in the Democratic Senate primary.[290]
    • Houston officials cancel the in-person Texas Republican Convention, scheduled for July 13–18.[291]
  • July 9
    • SCOTUS
      • The Court rules 7-2 that Trump must turn over his tax records to the Manhattan prosecutor, but they will not be made available to House investigators or the general public.[292][293]
      • In a 5–4 decision, the Court rules that a large part of Oklahoma belongs to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and upholds treaty obligations.[294]
  • July 10 – Trump commutes the sentence of dirty-trickster Roger Stone.[295]
  • July 11 – Rescheduled Louisiana primaries. Originally planned for April 4 and then changed to June 20; early voting expanded and mail-in votes are encouraged.[296]
  • July 14
    • The Asheville, North Carolina city council approves 7-0 a plan to provide reparations to the community's black residents.[297]
    • Congressman Steve Watkins (R-KS) is charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor in relation to voter fraud in the 2019 Topeka municipal elections.[298]
    • Elections
      • Runoff primaries in Alabama: Trump-supported football coach Tommy Tuberville defeats former senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions for the Republican Senate nomination.[299]
      • Runoff primaries in Texas
      • Maine primaries[300]
  • July 15 – COVID-19 pandemic: The Trump administration politicizes health information by ordering hospitals to send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington rather than to the CDC.[301]
  • July 20 – Georgia State Senator Nikema Williams (D), is chosen to replace Representative John Lewis (D-GA) on the ballot in November.[302]
  • July 21
  • July 23 – The Senate approves the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA) 86–14, including a provision to rename military bases, over President Trump's veto threat.[305]
  • July 24 – Officials in New York State, the District of Columbia, and 19 other states, as well as a dozen cities and counties, sue Donald Trump for his memo excluding undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census.[306]
  • July 27 – The Richmond, Virginia, Police Department determines that weekend riots were instigated by white supremacists under the guise of the Black Lives Matter movement.[307]
  • July 28
  • July 29
  • July 30 – Donald Trump threatens to postpone the election if it appears mail-in-votes might go against him.[313] Leaders of both parties reject the suggestion.[314]
  • July 31 – Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) is sanctioned by the House of Representatives for violating campaign finance rules and improperly using official resources for his reelection efforts.[315]






History by government agency[edit]

Note: This section is provided for updates by government body or agency in a narrative format if desired.

Census Bureau[edit]

The 2020 United States census was plagued with problems. The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays and made data collection difficult. President Trump's attempts to politicize the census and not count immigrants resulted in further confusion, undercounts, and delays, so that the Census Bureau was forced to miss its December 31 deadline for determining Congressional redistricting. It is generally assumed that undercounting immigrants could swing the apportionment of at least three Congressional seats from blue to red states.[475]

Congressional Budget Office[edit]

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the federal budget deficit will reach $1 billion for the first time since 2012. Deficits will rise from 4.6% to 5.4% of GDP by 2030, the highest since World War II.[476]

Defense Department[edit]

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warns in early January that Kata'ib Hezbollah, the group responsible for the attack on the embassy in Baghdad, may be planning new attacks in Iraq, and that the U.S. is prepared to preemptive attacks.[477] A short while later, a U.S. airstrike at the Baghdad International Airport killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.[478]

In January, the Army prohibited its members from using TikTok, saying the Chinese-owned social media poses a security risk.[479]

Heavy traffic apparently fueled by fears of a return of the draft for the first time since 1973 caused the Selective Service System website to crash on January 3.[480]

The U.S. military deployed a new submarine-launched low-yield nuclear weapon, seen as critical to countering the threat posed by Russia's arsenal of smaller tactical nukes. The new warheads, the first new U.S. nuclear weapon in decades, were first produced in February 2019.[481]

On March 2, President Trump sent the nomination of Kenneth Braithwaite for United States Secretary of the Navy to the Senate. Braithwaite's predecessor, Richard Spencer, resigned in November 2019 after criticizing the pardoning of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who had been accused of war crimes.[482]

In mid-March, Secretary Esper announced thirteen cases of COVID-19 among the military and their dependents, suspended tours of The Pentagon, and imposed a 60-day travel ban on service members, DOD employees, and their dependents. Participation of U.S. forces in military exercises in Europe, South Korea, Africa, and Antarctica have also been restricted or reduced.[483]

The DoD plans to suspend publication of Stars and Stripes on September 30 and dissolve the organization by January 31, 2021.[484]

Secretary Esper was fired on November 9, after former VP Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election. Christopher C. Miller is named Acting Secretary.[485] Esper had supported renaming military bases that honor Confederate soldiers and had disagreed with the President on deploying troops to suppress demonstrations.[486]


In December 2019, the EPA announced that it will seek to address concerns emphasized by American farmers over new rules for blending biofuels.[487]

New rules proposed on January 3 would exempt long-term accumulative effects such as climate change from being considered in the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Court cases extending back to the Obama administration have ruled that such effects must be taken into consideration.[488]

The EPA announced on December 7 that it would not strengthen standards for particulate-matter air pollution, despite evidence that such a change would save thousands of lives.[489][490]

Education Department[edit]

In December 2019, consumer advocates sued the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, alleging that these government agencies had failed to protect student loan borrowers. The lawsuit provides an overview of the alleged problems. The U.S. Department of Education is the biggest player in the student loan world, handling hundreds of billions of dollars in federal student loan debt. Rather than managing this sprawling portfolio itself, however, the Department outsources operations to several large servicing companies.[491]

Large student loan servicing firms such as Navient, FedLoan Servicing have been faced with allegations of violations of consumer protection statutes. But the Department of Education has largely not addressed these issues, and has omitted to oversee its servicers (who receive billions from taxpayers).[491]

The Education Department announced in February that it was changing the rules for more than 800 rural schools, cutting off federal funds designed to help poor, rural schools.[492]


President Trump has made Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid available for Puerto Rico since the December 29, 2019, earthquake.[493] However, as of January 9, only $1.5 billion of the $9.7 billion approved by Congress has been released.[494]

FEMA says it may bill 2015–2018 California fire victims if Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) goes bankrupt.[495]

Intelligence community[edit]

President Trump nominates former Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as Director of National Intelligence for the second time.[496] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to support Ratcliffe.[497] Since Dan Coats resigned in August 2019 because of differences with the president,[498] Trump appointed two acting directors, emphasizing loyalty over competence or experience.[499][500]


NASA may return to crwwed flights in 2020, in cooperation with private companies such as Boeing.[501]

Two veteran NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, were launched in NASA's first crewed flight on May 30, 2020, in a spaceship (SpaceX Dragon 2) built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp.[502] A four-person crew flew a second flight on November 16.[503]

Post Office[edit]

Following 13 consecutive fiscal years of financial losses (mostly due to a requirement that it fund health care for the next 80 years), the United States Postal Service may be privatized in 2020.[504]

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy introduced cost-cutting measures in August that were widely seen as designed to lower voter turnout, including the removal of mail-sorting machines and the removal of public, blue mailboxes. DeJoy walked back some of his reforms after sharp criticism, but the effect of his actions is likely to persist until after the November 3 election.[505] DeJoy is a major contributor to President Trump, and he is being investigated for conflicts of interest.[505] He and the USPS are being sued by 20 states.[505]

Social Security Administration[edit]

The Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to make it harder for 500,000 older Americans to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it was revealed in March.[506]

State Department[edit]

The situation in Iraq causes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to postpone a planned visit to Ukraine and other eastern European countries in early January.[8]

Treasury Department[edit]

A bipartisan bill proposes transferring control of the Secret Service back to the Treasury Department, but it is hung up on a dispute over whether to disclose the costs of protection for President Trump's travel.[507]

History by issue[edit]

Note: This section is provided for issue-based overviews in narrative format, if desired.

Banking and finance[edit]

In the first half of 2019, global debt levels reached a record high of $250 trillion, led by the US and China.[508] The IMF warned about corporate debt.[508] The European Central Bank raised concerns as well.[509] The EU was concerned about high rates of debt in France, Italy and Spain.[510]


Educational issues ranged from funding for preschool to online vs. in-person education during the pandemic to college debt relief.[511] Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's penchant for charter and private schools over public schools was another concern.[512]


In 2020, expect major fights over EPA regulatory rollbacks, as well as conflicts over the environmental impact of the Mexico–United States border wall, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, PFAS (a cancer-linked chemical leaching into drinking water), the Waters of the U.S. Rule, and the Arctic Refuge drilling controversy.[513] Underfunding of the EPA has led to an increased backlog at major hazardous waste sites.[514]

The Trump Administration plans to rewrite EPA regulations to make it easier to build major infrastructure projects such as pipelines.[515] The Washington Post reported on October 30 that Trump had rolled back 125 environmental policies and rules with another 40 on the way, including the relaxation of Obama-era power plant pollution standards, efficiency standards for washing machines, and the opening of the Tongass National Forest to logging.[516]

Climate change[edit]

In December 2019, the World Meteorological Organization released its annual climate report revealing that climate impacts are worsening.[517] They found the global sea temperatures are rising as well as land temperatures worldwide. 2019 is the last year in a decade that is the warmest on record.[518]

Global carbon emissions hit a record high in 2019, even though the rate of increase slowed somewhat, according to a report from Global Carbon Project.[519]

Progressives such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and the Green Party of the United States have advocated for a Green New Deal involving the elimination of carbon emissions by 2035, strict environmental laws, and economic reforms. President-elect Joe Biden has endorsed some of those ideas (such as a return to the 2016 Paris Agreement) although his ideas commitments are more moderate (such as an end to carbon emissions from electrical production by 2050 and a ban on hydraulic fracking on federal land but not a general ban).[520]

Foreign policy[edit]

President Donald Trump faced his first foreign policy crisis of 2020 with the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq on December 31, 2019, and January 1, 2020.[2][521] A January 2 U.S.-ordered strike that killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a terrorist with close ties to Iran, threatened to escalate the conflict.[522]

President Trump may find his greatest challenges in Europe, where his popularity is very low.[523] Tariffs, trade, and China's growing military power are concerns, as is unrest in Hong Kong.[523] There is concern about Russian involvement in Syria as well as its increasingly aggressive foreign policy.[523]

There is increased pressure to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan to 8,600 and reach a peace agreement with the Taliban.[524][525] On November 18, Trump ordered U.S. troops in Afghanistand and Iraq to be reduced to 2,500 in each country by January 15.[526] He then ordered a withdrawal of the 800 U.S. troops in Somalia.[527]

Conflict with Iran[edit]

Tensions with Iran rise as 2020 begins.[524][525] Sticky points are not only the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Bagdhad, but also a nuclear agreement, shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, economic sanctions, and the war in Yemen.[528] Tension increased after the United States killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Bagdhad on January 3. President Trump claimed the targeted killing prevented an attack on American interests and saved many lives, insisting he does not want a war while warning Iran against retaliation.[529] Many are concerned that Iranian retaliation could lead to a wider conflict.[530][531]

Domestic political reaction was mostly along party lines, with Republicans, particularly Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC),[532] supporting the move and Democrats opposing it.[533] Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)[534] and Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson[535] were exceptions. On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had the strongest reaction, calling the killing an "assassination;" he was echoed by Andrew Yang and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Other Democratic presidential candidates were more muted, calling Soleimani a bad man but questioning Trump's lack of strategic planning.[536] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that the Congressional Gang of Eight was not notified before the attack, which was therefore unauthorized.[537]

Thousands marched in anti-war protests in seventy cities across the nation and around the world on January 4.[538]

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would introduce a resolution to limit Trump's ability to take actions against Iran.[539] Former Vice President Joe Biden called for sanctions relief in April in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran.[540] As six U.S. Navy ships conducted drills in the Persian Gulf on April 17, 2020, eleven Iranian Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ships harassed them, some coming within ten yards (9 meters) of the American ships. On April 21, President Trump ordered the Americans to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats" that harass American warships in international waters.[541]

An August CNN report alleges that the Iranian government paid bounties to Taliban fighters that led to the December 2019 attack on a U.S. airbase that resulted in two dead and 70 people injured, including four American soldiers.[542]

The November 27 assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, presumably by Israel, is expected to make normalization of United States-Iranian relations under a Biden administration difficult.[543]


On March 26, 2020, the United States accused Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of narcoterrorism and offered a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest.[544] On March 31, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that sanctions did not apply to humanitarian aid during the health emergency and that the United States would lift all sanctions if Maduro agreed to organize elections that did not include him in a period of six to twelve months. Pompeo reiterated U.S. support for Juan Guaidó.[545] On April 1, Trump announced that he was sendin anti-drug Navy ships and AWACS planes to the Caribbean near Venezuela in the largest military build-up in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama.[546][547] Elliott Abrams, the United States special representative for Venezuela, claimed on April 23 that "many people" both inside and outside the Maduro government support the proposed U.S. transition to a government that would involve neither Maduro nor Guaidó.[548]


North Korea threatens to resume nuclear testing as the year begins.[524][525][549] Disarmament is also a concern in relations with Russia[523] and Iran.[528] Iran's January 5 pullout from its nuclear agreement following the killing of Qassem Soleimani was no surprise but it makes it more difficult to reach another agreement at a later date.[550][551]

Incidents of saber rattling by American rivals increase as the coronavirus pandemic winds down in April 2020. Iranian patrol boats harass U.S. naval ships in the Persian Gulf, Russian planes fly dangerously close to American fighters in the eastern Mediterranean, and North Korea fires missile tests into the Sea of Japan. Intelligence sources suspect China is preparing for low-intensity nuclear tests.[552] The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched its first satellite on April 22.[553]

The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on August 2, effective February 2021.[554] The U.S. formally withdrew from the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies in November 2020. Dismantlement of the two Boeing OC-135B Open Skies planes was begun right away, making it almost impossible for President-elect to reverse the decision after he takes office in January.[555]


Gun laws and 2nd Amendment rights promise to be major issues in 2020, in Congress, on the campaign trail, and at the state level, particularly in Virginia. 177 gun deaths (murders, accidents, and 132 suicides; three mass shootings) were recorded across the country on January 1.[556] New Mexico joins New York, California, Florida, and other states in passing a red flag law on February 25.[557]

Health issues[edit]

Coronavirus outbreak[edit]

Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on February 25 that the COVID-19 pandemic may become a pandemic.[558] Moody's Analytics says there is a 40% chance of a U.S. recession in the first half of 2020 and the virus may set off a worldwide economic recession. It has already sidetracked a U.S.-China trade agreement, slowed tourism, and caused a 2,000-point (6.5%) drop in the Dow.[559] The Trump administration is criticized for its handling of a response.[560][561][562] On March 6, President Trump signed the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response bill Archived February 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.[563] 44,183 COVID-19 cases and 544 deaths are reported in the United States on March 23, 2020.[564]

Government response to the pandemic became a major issue during the 2020 elections, with Democrats generally advocating for the caution (mask wearing, virtual campaigns, social distancing, and limited economic opening) and Republicans often advocating for a fully-open economy while ignoring mask wearing and social distancing; large, live rallies and other public events were a hallmark of the Trump reelection campaign.

A summer surge in infections affected mostly the South and the West; another surge after Labor Day when college students returned to school was exasperated by Thanksgiving travel and celebrations. By early December, there were 14 million infections and 280,000 deaths,[565] as many localities such as Iowa expressed concern about staff shortages.[566]

Despite Trump's promise to deliver twenty million doses of the two vaccines approved by the FDA just before Christmas, by December 30 only 2.6 million people, mostly frontline COVID-19 health workers, had received the first dose. Observers blame poor planning and a lack of money for distribution.[567]

Financing health care[edit]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that in 2020, Democrats will prioritize getting bills such as the "Lower Drug Costs Now Act" signed into law. Increasing health care is a priority for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, although there are large differences in how to go about it.[568]

President-elect Joe Biden ran on preserving and expanding the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option. His ability to do depends on control of the United States Senate.[569] The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is generally expected to uphold the law, following a hearing on November 10, 2020.[570] Attempts by the states to expand coverage are hampered by tight budgets related to high unemployment and the high cost of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.[571]

Opioid epidemic[edit]

Mother Jones reports that Johns Hopkins University researchers have concluded that lax oversight by the Food and Drug Administration is hampering efforts to ensure that opioids such as OxyContin are not overprescribed. This despite Trump Administration claims that addressing opioid misuse is a top priority.[572] A March 25, 2020 report by ProPublica revealed that Walmart used its political influence with the Trump administration to avoid criminal prosecution for over-dispensing opioids in Texas.[573]


Following the December 2019 House impeachment vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would restrain from delivering the acts of impeachment to the Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained the trial procedures. Pelosi indicated she would release the articles the week of January 13, after former National Security Advisor John Bolton indicated he would testify if subpoenaed, and unredacted emails from the Department of Defense (DOD) relevant to the Ukraine investigation were released.[574] On January 15, the U.S. House of Representatives sent the impeachment resolutions to the Senate for trial.[42] On February 5, 2020, the Senate acquitted Trump on both counts. The votes were 52–48 to acquit on the first count and 53–47 to acquit on the second count. The votes were sharply divided along party lines.[575]

Marijuana policy[edit]

On the federal level, there is increased pressure to liberalize marijuana laws, such as bills to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.[576] Illinois legalized recreational use of marijuana starting January 1, and other states are expected to legalize marijuana and/or liberalize existing laws in 2020.[577] In December 2019, Politico reported that 21 of 27 presidential candidates support legalization, five want the states to decide the issue, and one (Joe Biden) has called for decriminalization of marijuana.[578]

The Democratic-controlled United States House of Representatives voted to legalize marijuana at the federal level on December 4, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to block it.[579]

Online privacy rules / Social media[edit]

In December 2019, members of the Senate Committee on Commerce announced sweeping new proposals for federal laws to protect online privacy.[580][581][582][583][584]

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple Inc. and Google are collaborating on technology to create smartphone apps that would help identify people who have crossed paths with a contagious person and alert them. Privacy advocates are skeptical.[585]

President Trump and other conservatives have often complained about the unproven bias liberal of social media, particularly as Trump's false and misleading statements became more outrageous and more common. Trump vetoed the Defense authorization bill because it did not repeal Section 230 of Internet legislation, which provides immunity for website publishers from third-party content. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used the same excuse to block the approval of $2,000/person in COVID-19 relief in December.[586]

Presidential Election[edit]

There were 14 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination; four women (Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson) and four people of color (Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, Gabbard, and Deval Patrick.[587][588] Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Warren lead in national polling.[589] Biden, Sanders, Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Klobuchar have qualified for the 7th debate on January 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.[590]

Bernie Sanders was the early leader in the race for the Democratic nomination, but Joe Biden won big in the South Carolina Democratic primary, which led to Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropping out and endorsing him the night before the Super Tuesday primaries (March 3). Biden swept the South and surged ahead in delegates; Sanders won the West; the other candidates all dropped out, except for Tulsi Gabbard (who had won two delegates from American Samoa). Biden extended his lead after the March 10 primaries.[591]

The coronavirus pandemic changed electioneering. Sanders and Biden canceled live rallies starting March 10, while forums and fund-raising events moved on-line. Louisiana and Georgia postponed their primaries, and Wyoming changed to a mail-in system. Other states are considering similar moves, and the March 15 Biden-Sanders televised debate is the only campaign event scheduled.[592] A poll taken by The Hill-HarrisX on May 27–28 indicated that 53% of registered voters said they would feel "somewhat" or "very" comfortable voting in person, compared to 47% who said they'd be uncomfortable.[593]

Former Vice President Joe Biden was nominated at a virtual convention on August 19. California Senator Kamala Harris was chosen as his running mate.[594] President Donald Trump was formally nominated at a convention held at the White House on August 24.[595]

The Associated Press and major television networks declared Biden the winner of the election on November 7.[596] Trump refused to concede and baselessly alleged massive voter fraud, filing dozens of frivolous lawsuits: all but one minor procedural matter were soundly rejected by the courts.

Racism and police brutality[edit]

Racial tensions came to a peak on May 25, 2020, when 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered by police following his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[597] Protests soon broke out across the United States and around the world.[598] Activists are calling for police reforms and some have called for defunding[599] or abolishing the police.[600] Some jurisdictions have approved changes. The debate about Confederate flag displays, statues, and places named for racist leaders has reopened.[601][602]

State and local issues[edit]

During 2019, ten states moved toward ensuring abortion rights, while eleven passed laws to restrict legal abortions.[603]

Illinois legalized recreational use of marijuana on January 1, and other states are expected to reform marijuana laws in 2020.[4] Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approved legalization of marijuana in the November 3 elections.[604] Oregon went a step further and decriminalized small amounts of hard drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.[605]

California's fight for workers' rights is being challenged by ride-sharing and food-delivery companies Uber, Postmates, Lyft, and DoorDash.[606] 21 states and 26 local jurisdictions raised their minimum wage laws on January 1, many to $15/hour.[4] Voters approved the measure, 58.6% to 41.4%.[604]

New York State implemented justice reforms by eliminating cash bail for many offenses.[4] Utah voted to eliminate slavery as a form of punishment in a November 3 ballot measure.[604]

Red flag laws go into effect on January 1 in Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii. Following the 2019 Virginia elections, major gun control legislation is expected in that state in 2020.[4] According to Gun Owners of America, 200 counties, cities, and towns in 19 states have passed 2nd Amendment sanctuary ordinances.[607] The Senate of Virginia passed several gun-control laws on January 16, days before a planned pro-gun rally was planned in Richmond.[608]

Dozens of state issues were decided by referendum during the 2020 general elections. Mississippi adopted a new state flag, rejecting its Confederate heritage.[604] California extended data privacy laws and Florida raised its minimum wage to $15/hour.[604]


The introduction of new 5G wireless technology caused major public discussion about possible security risks and safety risks. Many experts said 5G would require new methods to ensure the security of data.[609] The US Congress passed legislation regarding security concerns about 5G networks.[610] The federal government prohibited the use of Huawei equipment for 5G networks due to security concerns and encouraged its allies to also do so as well. The US government imposed strict controls on US companies as to their ability to do business with Huawei, thus disrupting sales of Huawei phones overseas. Chinese vendors and the Chinese government have denied these claims.[611] Huawei submitted a petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit against the FCC's decision to prohibit rural U.S. network providers from using equipment from the China-based vendor due to national security concerns, asking that the recent FCC order be overturned.[612]

The development of technology has elicited various responses and concerns that 5G radiation could have adverse health effects.[613] An editorial in the scientific magazine Scientific American emphasized that complete scientific research regarding its effects have not been conducted and that there could be health risks.[614] Wired characterized fears that the technology could cause cancer, infertility, autism, Alzheimer's, and mysterious bird deaths as "conspiracy theory".[615] The US FCC and nearly all other regulators claim 5G radiation will have no significant health effects.

The United States is no longer the world's leader in science and engineering, according to a report by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Federal government spending on research has fallen steadily since 2000, and the U.S. total contribution to research and development has fallen to 25%, compared to 33% for China. Women hold 29% and minorities 13.3% of jobs in science and engineering. The U.S. still leads in the granting of doctorates in science and engineering.[616]

World trade[edit]

US-China Trade Dispute[edit]

A trade dispute between the US and China caused economic concerns worldwide. In December 2019, various US officials said a trade deal was likely before a proposed round of new tariffs took effect on December 15, 2019.[617] US tariffs had a negative effect on China's economy, which slowed to growth of 6%.[617] In December 2019, new deal was announced regarding US-China trade dispute.[618] Farmers are skeptical of the proposed new deal, as it would require China to double the farm purchases made before the trade war started.[619] President Trump signed an initial trade deal worth $200 billion with China on January 15.[43]

United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement[edit]

The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement[620] is a signed but not ratified free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The Agreement is the result of a 2017–2018 renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by its member states.[621] Negotiations "focused largely on auto exports, steel and aluminum tariffs, and the dairy, egg, and poultry markets." One provision "prevents any party from passing laws that restrict the cross-border flow of data".[622] Compared to NAFTA, USMCA increases environmental and labour regulations, and incentivizes more domestic production of cars and trucks.[623] The agreement also provides updated intellectual property protections, gives the United States more access to Canada's dairy market, imposes a quota for Canadian and Mexican automotive production, and increases the duty-free limit for Canadians who buy U.S. goods online from $20 to $150.[624] Mexico and the U.S. House ratified the treaty in December 2019; the U.S. Senate ratified it in January 2020. Environmentalists argue the treaty does not go far enough.[48] The Parliament of Canada ratified the agreement on March 13 before going on recess because of the coronavirus pandemic.[625]

See also[edit]

Country overviews[edit]

Related timelines for current period[edit]

Specific situations and issues[edit]


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  45. ^ Virginia passes Equal Rights Amendment by Tal Axelrod, The Hill, January 15, 2020
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  70. ^ Gunmen, Some In Masks, Swarm KY Capitol For 2nd Amendment Rally By Matt Shuham, Talking Points Memo, 31 January 2020
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  133. ^ Democrats balk at Trump's payroll tax cut proposal by Scott Wong, The Hill, 9 March 2020
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