January-February 2018

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C ongress returned in January and faced many of the same deadlines it put off at the end of 2017, and faced similar uncertainty about how to deal with the underlying issues in 2018. Leaders will have to navigate the varied concerns of defense hawks, those seeking spending cuts to domestic programs, civil libertarians concerned with warrantless surveillance sweeping up Americans' communications, and members looking to deal with roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants that are in particularly vulnerable situations. The deal on immigration must include a yet-to-be-reached bipartisan agreement on defense and domestic spending caps, while most likely, also satisfying parties concerned with the Children's Health Insurance Program and the status of undocumented immigrants who came to the country illegally when they were young. The Senate continues to confirm even more judges, as part of a broad Trump administration effort to leave a lasting legacy, tilting the courts in a more conservative direction. Here's what else is on tap: energy & environment The Senate environment committee is pushing forward its infrastructure agenda, hosting hearings on water-infrastructure needs. Trump administration officials have floated an infrastructure package, but lawmakers are struggling to devise a plan to pay for infrastructure spending. Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso flatly rejects a substantial increase in the gas tax, which groups such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) are urging. Meanwhile, the full chamber will continue to brainstorm a disaster-relief package for areas of the country hit by hurricanes and wildfires. An aide with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says it's unlikely Democrats will sign off on another stopgap funding measure without a deal on the constellation of unresolved legislative policy, including disaster relief. On the House side of the Capitol, energy and commerce lawmakers have kicked off a series of hearings aimed at reauthorizing the Energy Department. Representative Joe Barton, a former chairman of the committee, is tasked with developing legislation to overhaul the department's priorities. Health Both the House and Senate have several unresolved health care issues on tap: funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicare extenders, Obamacare taxes, and possible funding to fight the opioid epidemic. Added to that list now is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' move to rescind the Obama-era policy that largely suspended enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized pot. Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee continues to hold hearings to address the opioid crisis. In December, Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray sent a letter to governors and state insurance commissioners asking for their specific recommendations on how the federal government can be helpful for states during this crisis. taxes Now that both the House and Senate are back in session, lawmakers return to work on tax issues left over from last year's jam-packed legislative schedule. Two top issues are the package of tax extenders (temporary tax breaks periodically renewed by Congress that the Senate Finance Committee unveiled in December) and the series of bills to delay taxes related to the Affordable Care Act. It's a full legislative calendar in 2018. Know that your organization, NWPCA, and its legislative team of on the ground lobbyists and law firms are working for you to protect your interests in this time of manufacturing in mayhem. PC Capitol Hill Corner By Patrick Atagi, Vice President, Advocacy & External Affairs 14 PalletCentral • January-February 2018

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