In Washington, Labor Day is seen as the official end to summer, when Congress returns to the Capitol from its August recess and jumps into a busy legislative session as the end of the federal fiscal year approaches. After months of unceasing extraordinary situations—states reopening, police protests/riots, new COVID outbreaks, party conventions, market swings, trade wars, etc.—the summer of 2020 is happily in the rearview, and we look toward the new normalization of government operations going forward.
Despite these difficult times, Congress continues its work to address national needs related to the pandemic and economic recovery, and FPA continues to engage with elected officials to advocate on behalf of flexible packaging priorities. Infrastructure and trade now are at the top of the priority list.
In an effort to pump additional funding into a struggling economy, the House took up a massive piece of legislation, H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, that would provide more than $1.5 trillion to rebuild American infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and transit systems, as well as schools, housing, and broadband access. According to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, by “investing in families, workers, and communities across the country, we can support American manufacturing and ingenuity and create millions of jobs that cannot be exported, all while putting our country on a path toward zero-carbon emissions, making communities and roads safer, and addressing long-standing disparities.” While supportive of infrastructure investment, the Republican-led Senate is not on the same page as the House with the tactical approach for doing this. The White House also plays a vital role and will be key in what is included in any final package.
FPA continues to support congressional efforts to pass an infrastructure package that includes funding to build modern recycling infrastructure and has been advocating for Congress to include the RECOVER Act—Realizing the Economic Opportunities and Value of Expanding Recycling—in any infrastructure legislation. As noted in the last issue, FPA and the RECOVER Act Coalition called on Congress to invest $1 billion on the nation’s recycling infrastructure by including H.R. 5115 in any stimulus legislation.
Trade continues to dominate activities in Washington. While FPA welcomed the implementation of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1, we continue to be a vocal opponent of many of this administration’s trade policies. Earlier in the summer, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on “The President’s 2020 Trade Policy Agenda” and heard testimony from Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative. FPA’s Alison Keane weighed in at both hearings and provided Statements for the Record. “At a time when sterile packaging for food, health and hygiene, and medical equipment is more important than ever, and as U.S. manufacturers are suffering from the worst economy in decades, the Administration should be looking at ways to alleviate supply chain burdens, not increase them,” Keane said in her statement. “… FPA does not support the additional controls contemplated for the Section 232 exclusionary process and the proposed rule to establish an Aluminum Import Monitoring and Analysis (AIM) system, and is troubled that the President may be considering reinstating tariffs on the industry’s biggest trading partner, Canada.”
How Congress and the Administration deal with these and many other issues will be reflected in the November elections when the American people determine who will lead our country into a post-pandemic era.