Written by: Leah Wilkinson | September 13, 2021
It’s September. Growing up on the farm that always meant a few things were certain – the corn harvest would start, the air would become crisper and there was a lot of work to do as the days got shorter. In Washington, there is also a level of excitement this time of year as it means Congress is in a mad dash to complete its work before the end of the fiscal year. This year is shaping up to be the same for my family back on the farm and in Congress.
The federal fiscal year comes to an end Sept. 30, meaning Congress must either approve funding for the new year or fund a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. Over the last 47 years, Congress has only been able to complete the entire appropriations process four times, meaning they have extended their deadline and many times stuck around until the Christmas holiday. It is likely to be the same situation this year. Here is a roundup of the work Congress needs to complete this fall and other issues they are expected to act upon.
First up will be the House and Senate, each dealing with their portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package aiming to fund the social priorities set out by the Biden administration in the Build Back Better Agenda. Both House and Senate Democratic leadership have given committees a Sept. 15 deadline to do their work for the legislation to be assembled and ready for floor action by the end of the month. The American Feed Industry Association is monitoring this activity and urging Congress to not alter the tax code in a way that would negatively impact the agriculture industry and small and family-owned businesses.
House leadership set Sept. 27 as its deadline to vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate 69-30 before the August recess. Included in this bill is funding to update our roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail and waterways. The bill also includes $65 billion dedicated to boosting rural broadband infrastructure to get every American access to reliable, high-speed internet. Importantly, the bipartisan bill renews infrastructure and transportation programs that are set to expire at the end of September.
If that wasn’t enough to keep Congress busy, they also need to address the suspension of the debt ceiling and pass the remaining appropriations bills to continue funding the government beyond Sept. 30. While the House has passed four of the 13 appropriation bills, the Senate has only passed three out of committee. That means we are lining up for Congress approving a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30. Many are expecting a deadline toward the end of December, as there is nothing more motivating for achieving agreement than members wanting to get home for the holidays.
As struggles with the supply chain and congestion at the ports continue, all eyes are on Congress to pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 (H.R. 4996), which would update the Shipping Act to better reflect current federal policy governing ocean shipping.
The AFIA supports this bill and will soon be asking our members to contact their representatives and ask them to cosponsor this legislation and support its passage.
One thing is for sure, there is a lot to do and not much time – sounds like fall to me!