With the commencement of the 118th Congress in January, we knew the divided Congress—Republican control of the House and Democratic control of the Senate—would limit the amount of consequential legislative action this session. Therefore, the situation in Washington, D.C., as we enter late spring and early summer is pretty much what was anticipated—a Congress that has accomplished little of meaningful substance to date.
This is not to say that Congress has not been busy. The Hill has mostly returned to a pre-COVID pace. The Capitol complex is open again for regular meetings, and industry fly-ins have returned. The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) has resumed its regular in-person meetings and briefings with key congressional members and staff to advance its federal agenda issues.
Busy, however, does not necessarily mean productive in terms of legislative achievements. The House has spent the past few months passing legislation that has little chance of becoming law and focusing a lot of committee effort on oversight activities that mainly target the Biden administration. The Senate, with an even slimmer seat margin than the House, has struggled to move on any major legislative packages.
2024 Campaign Season
Another factor impacting the congressional agenda—on both sides of the aisle—is the launch of the 2024 campaign season. The race for the White House is off and running, with several presidential candidates making it official and several more likely to throw their hats in soon. Additionally, Republicans and Democrats are keenly aware that control of both chambers of Congress is up for grabs again in 2024. Accordingly, all actions and inactions are being viewed through a campaign-messaging lens.
The Biden administration continues to press forward with implementation efforts on the major legislative packages from the past Congress, including the Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act. In addition, the administration has been required to respond to numerous oversight inquiries by the new House Republican majority. There have been some key high-level staffing and cabinet-level changes affecting some of the president’s agenda, as well.
On the Horizon
Going into the summer, Congress has major issues looming that need to be addressed, including the debt limit and fiscal year 2024 budget considerations. Investigative and oversight activities are expected to continue in earnest but with different focuses on opposite sides of the Hill. One area of overlap expected to continue is the focus on all things China.
FPA also is working on our summer outreach plans. The longer congressional recesses throughout the summer months are traditionally good times for having members of Congress and their staff visit facilities. This year, we are focusing efforts on the many freshmen and new committee members who are unfamiliar with FPA issues. Please let the advocacy team know if you would like to join in these efforts and host a congressional visit.