The Short Year Ahead for Congress

By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Advocacy & Legislative Affairs, Goodwill Industries International

An election year can be a difficult one for Congress to accomplish a lot, given a shortened legislative calendar to provide lawmakers with ample time to be on the campaign trail. A presidential election year adds another lay of challenges, with national conventions for each party and the politics associated with trying to move certain issues through the finish line before Election Day, during a lame duck or perhaps punting for a new Congress (and potentially a new administration). With the addition of the pending impeachment trial in the Senate in the mix, this window narrows even more.

While impeachment and Iran take center-stage in Congress and the media, lawmakers have a busy year ahead. President Trump is slated to give his State of the Union Address on February 4, followed by the release of his Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget proposal on February 10. These items will provide insights into the priorities for the administration. By the summer, the House would like to have passed the majority of the 12 FY21 spending bills they have to consider.

In addition to spending, there are a number of programs that are due for reauthorization, which Congress has to address this year including the Higher Education Act, the Older Americans Act and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Act.

Finally, the 2020 census will also be taken this year. Census data is important for a number of reasons. It affects the numbers of seats your state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives; advocates, researchers and employers use the data for different causes including looking at skilled workers; and it determines how much federal funding is spent in certain areas on services including job training centers run by local Goodwill® organizations.

As a Goodwill advocate, your voice will be important as all of these issues are debated. Be sure to register in our the Legislative Action Center and follow us on Twitter @GoodwillCapHill to be informed of the latest information.