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What’s on the federal agenda for 2018?

Thursday, January 11, 2018   (0 Comments)
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By Sarah Hubbart, director, Michael Torrey Associates

Congress returned to D.C. this month with a long list of to-dos. The question remains how much can actually get accomplished before attention shifts to the already fast-approaching 2018 midterm elections.

Big Picture: President Trump signed the tax reform legislation into law on Dec. 22. Visit for a rundown from Edge about the various components of the bill. Now the IRS and Treasury Department are tasked with writing the rules, regulations and guidance documents to implement the changes.

Read more here.

There has been much speculation about which high-profile policy priority will be tackled next by the administration. Over the last several months, the president has shown an interest in moving forward an infrastructure plan, welfare reform or even a re-boot of healthcare reform. However, Congress is unlikely to take up politically charged legislation during an election year. The president may offer clues at what is on the horizon Jan. 30 during his State of the Union address.

Funding: The first deadline to watch is Jan. 19, when another spending deal must be reached to keep the government funded. It’s expected that another short-term continuing resolution will be needed to avoid a shutdown – the fourth in four months.

A compromise has been slowed due to several contentious issues that have become tangled in these negotiations. While Democrats continue to push for a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) fix in the funding package, Republican leadership has said the issue will be dealt with separately. Congress must find a solution to DACA by March under the timeline set by the Trump administration.

Read more here.

DACA: The conversation around DACA continues to be divisive. Funding for a border wall is a major sticking point. Negotiations between a Republican working group led by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and a separate, bipartisan effort by the Problem Solvers Caucus seem to have stalled. 

President Trump brought together Republican and Democrat leaders at the White House to discuss a path forward on immigration. A group of House GOP lawmakers also introduced a multi-faceted bill that would establish a new “H-2C” ag guest worker program, among other things. Given other divisive components of the legislation it is unlikely to garner support in the Senate. At the time of this writing a deal has yet to be reached to address DACA and avoid a government shutdown, but the process is very fluid.

Read more here.

Trade: The sixth round of “NAFTA 2.0” negotiations will be held Jan. 23-28 in Montreal. Edge and a broad coalition of stakeholders continue to educate decision makers about the positive economic impact that NAFTA has had on dairy. While we want greater access to Canada with our products, we also want to protect the important Mexican market. This is crunch time since negotiators aim to finalize the agreement by March.

Read more here. 

Farm bill: Before the holiday break, the House passed an $81 billion disaster relief package that senators are now under pressure to act on. In addition to natural disaster recovery, that bill also includes provisions that would make cotton growers eligible for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and lift the $20 million annual cap for Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) policies. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Stabenow, D-Mich., has said the bill doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t make improvements to the Margin Protection Program (MPP).

This could be a foreshadowing of farm bill debates soon to come. The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30. Both the House and Senate Agriculture committees were optimistic that they could advance their legislation early in 2018 but draft text has yet to be seen. It is worth noting a farm bill hasn’t been done on time since 1990.

Read more here.

Your Edge team will keep you updated as we navigate these and other unknowns during the new year.

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