November is the month of the great unknowns. Questions abound, including how will the elections turn out? Who will be the president come January? Will the Senate flip to the Democrats’ control? Where will we be in fighting the pandemic and will some type of normalcy return, or will we be in the grip of new COVID-19 breakouts and closures? What about the economy—will it improve? How much more federal stimulus will be needed? Will Washington be able to break the stalemate of entrenched politics and work together to address the needs that face America’s citizens?
From an advocacy perspective, this year has been unprecedented and unlike any in recent history. Since the beginning of the year, the legislative priorities and issues that were anticipated to consume Congress largely have been overcome by other more immediate concerns.
The fall months are generally the time of year when those engaged in advocacy efforts begin planning for activities in the next year. At the federal level, this means preparing for the personalities and policies espoused by a new Congress and administration—whether that means a second term for the incumbent or the inauguration of a new president. This year, that process is quite difficult. As FPA embarks on putting together its advocacy plans going forward, the events of this year have highlighted the need to be nimble and ready to react to the unexpected.
Without question, the outcomes of this November’s general election will directly impact a number of issues that are certain to be prominent on next year’s congressional agenda, as well as the lame duck session of this 116th Congress as it wraps up its business after the election and before the inauguration and seating of the 117th Congress. These issues include:
- Budget/Funding: The economic impact of the pandemic has been devastating. Most states and local entities will end the year in dire economic straits, and businesses across the board will continue to need more assistance. Congress will need to address the Fiscal Year 2021 budget to ensure the government stays open and essential federal programs are funded.
- Trade: This issue, probably more than any other on FPA’s priority list, will be most impacted by who sits in the Oval Office come January; and the trade war with China will most certainly not be resolved by then. Throughout the year, the United States’ relationship with China has continued to deteriorate. The next administration will need to address China and other global trade issues.
- Recycling/Plastics: The focus on issues surrounding recycling and plastic pollution grew throughout the year, with many pieces of legislation introduced by sponsors from both sides of the aisle. This will continue to be a key issue in 2021. FPA commends efforts to raise awareness on recycling and is pleased that the administration and Congress will participate in America Recycles Day events on Nov. 15.