Congress Returns with a Full Plate

By Laura Walling, Vice President of Government Affairs, Goodwill Industries International

The Senate returned from the August recess on the 5th while the House is back in session on the 12th. Both chambers have a busy schedule ahead not only for the remainder of the calendar year, but certainly for the weeks ahead.

Appropriations: It will be nearly impossible for both chambers to agree on 12 spending plans for FY24, requiring passage of a temporary continuing resolution (CR) by October 1 or face a government shutdown. According to reports, Speaker McCarthy is working on a CR through early to mid-November and may include billions of dollars for disaster relief. President Biden is seeking additional funding for FEMA, the war in Ukraine, and the Women’s Infant and Children program among others as part of a supplemental budget request. Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle are in favor of passing the full supplemental request of $40 billion. The Senate passed all 12 appropriations bills out of committee and will begin combining them and bring minibus measures to the floor.

Farm Bill: The Farm Bill which contains the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will expire on September 30. While both the House and Senate Committees have held numerous hearings on elements of the bill, legislation will not be agreed to by the deadline and an extension will have to be passed.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): This annual bill contains many “must-pass” provisions related to the Department of Defense and includes sections that may impact federal contract work conducted by Goodwill organizations as part of the AbilityOne program which helps provide jobs for individuals with disabilities. The House and Senate passed different versions of the bill and a conference process must take place to work out the differences.

Tax: The House Ways and Means Committee passed a tax cut package along partisan lines earlier this summer. GOP members are fighting amongst themselves over state and local tax deductions which has prevented the measure from coming to the floor. Chances of the bill passing the Senate are slim however there may be bipartisan agreement on enhancing the child tax credit. Goodwill remains supportive of expanding the charitable deduction to all taxpayers should a broad tax measure be considered.

Miscellaneous: The Federal Aviation Administration Act is due for reauthorization by September 30 and may also be included in a stopgap measure. Leader Schumer also included several other priorities for the Senate in a “Dear Colleague” letter issued upon their return. Among the items include lowering drug costs; advancing children’s online safety and privacy, addressing rail safety, and artificial intelligence. At the same time, some House Republicans want leadership to focus on impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

We’ll continue keep our advocates informed of key developments around these issues.