Congress Returns with a Short Window to Accomplish Goals

Congress returned from the holiday recess and attempted to pick up where they left off, focusing on measures to fund the government with deadlines fast approaching. The current continuing resolution funding the federal government has two deadlines: the Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriation bills expire January 19 while the remaining eight bills expire February 2. House Speaker Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Schumer had reached an agreement on top-line funding levels, however some opposition from within the House may put the deal in jeopardy. There is widespread agreement that another short-term continuing resolution will be needed to avoid a government shutdown.

Other priorities being worked on by various bipartisan groups of lawmakers include border policy (which is also tied to continuing aide for Ukraine), paid family leave where a bipartisan group released a framework and expects legislative text to be crafted over the next couple of months, and a $70 billion tax package renewing business tax breaks and the expanding the child tax credit is under discussion. The costs would be offset by the employee retention tax credit. Goodwill Industries is working with the Charitable Giving Coalition and other nonprofits to expand charitable giving incentives as part of the deal.

Several bills are due for reauthorization including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) Act which established the nation’s workforce development system, and the Farm Bill which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. House and Senate leaders have committed to passing a Farm Bill this year, while work on WIOA reauthorization hasn’t begun yet in the Senate and a bill still must pass the House. Legislation pertaining to privacy and artificial intelligence is also a priority, although may not come together before lawmakers shift focus to the elections.

President Biden will address the nation on March 7th when he gives the State of the Union address. His fiscal year 2025 budget proposal should also be released around that time, identifying priorities for the administration.

We will continue to keep our advocates informed of pertinent developments on all of the issues raised above.