Calendar year 2021 is halfway over, and the Biden Administration is now more firmly in place. Amid all the activity, the Flexible Packaging Association has been hard at work in pursuit of a lengthy list of legislative and administrative interests. As the year continues, FPA will have even more opportunities to engage Congress and the Biden Administration on all things climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice.
The Biden Administration Climate Team
The Administration has assembled an encompassing climate team with the membership reflecting deep experience most often garnered by working in leadership positions in prior Democratic administrations. The team includes Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry; National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy; EPA Administrator Michael Regan; White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory; and Special Assistant to the President for Climate and Science Agency Personnel Jeff Marootian. You could also argue that Biden’s entire Cabinet is part of his climate team, given the incredible discipline they have shown by staying on message regarding the importance of protecting the environment and tackling climate change.
The Administration’s Approach
The Biden Administration has taken a whole-of-government approach to address climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice. Whether the topic is transportation/infrastructure, COVID-19 recovery efforts, workforce training, trade, or taxes, the underpinning philosophy is a keen focus on climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice. The Administration’s messaging and philosophy have been consistent and are not expected to waiver in the months ahead.
The Administration has already taken a considerable number of impactful executive actions—some of which have been discussed in other articles in this issue. The scope of those actions has been broad, with, for example, the nation’s reentry into the Paris Agreement, several executive orders on all aspects of climate change, and the expansive American Jobs Plan addressing a broad range of issues under the “infrastructure and transportation” umbrella.
Administration Plans Meet Congressional Realities
The Administration’s aggressive plans have met the reality of Capitol Hill politics. Congressional efforts for bipartisan approaches to legislating have had minimal success, reflecting today’s hyper-political environment and narrow margins in both legislative chambers. In the Senate, the leadership has used—and has the option to use several more times—the budget reconciliation process to bypass the 60-vote threshold requirement and negating the “need” for bipartisan votes. Contributing to the tensions is the reality that, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, there are philosophical and political divisions that make it exceedingly difficult to hold the caucuses together as single voting blocks.
Flexible Packaging Association’s Federal Advocacy
In the coming months, FPA’s federal advocacy efforts targeting both Congress and the Administration will continue to focus on opportunities to promote comprehensive recycling infrastructure through the infrastructure and transportation package currently under consideration, as well as the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills. There is some urgency for Congress to pass the 2022 appropriations bills prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
Additionally, as Congress heads out of town for the August recess, there is the opportunity for FPA to facilitate plant visits both virtually and in-person by federal legislators. FPA encourages its membership to showcase facilities—and is available to assist. These are opportunities to share and promote FPA’s mantra of advocating flexible packaging—Less Resources. Less Footprint. More Value.SM—and its role in a sustainable world.