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COVID Fatigue – What About All the Other Issues

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

 

Ann Sullivan

Ann Sullivan WIPP Chief Advocate

The newness of COVID-19 has worn off and, though little attention has been paid to other issues Congress must address, those issues haven’t gone away. Although congressional staff and Members are working remotely, business is still being conducted.

 

I would be remiss if I did not mention the potential for social justice reform, due to protests we have seen over the last week. However, there has been no federal action as of this writing.

 

Here’s what to expect:

 

Funding the Government for FY21

The government calendar for funding has not changed. The fiscal year still ends on September 30 and Congress must pass appropriations legislation to continue to fund the government. Although the schedule has been pushed back due to the pandemic, House leadership says it plans to pass all of its appropriations bills by August. As usual, the Senate schedule is less ambitious, but the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to start deliberations in late June.

 

Authorizing Defense Department Programs

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) guides every defense program and sets priorities for the following fiscal year. It doesn’t fund the programs—it leaves that to the appropriators but authorizes and recommends the funding levels. Often included in this bill are changes to small business contracting programs that are deemed important to the defense supplier base. The Senate Armed Services Committee expects to have completed its bill by the end of June/early July. The House Armed Services Committee schedule follows roughly the same timeline.

 

Tackling Infrastructure Funding

In addition to roads, trains and ships, water infrastructure is also on the list to fund and authorize. Although it was initially thought to be a massive recovery initiative, it now appears the Congress may tackle this piece by piece. Either way, a number of the programs expire unless Congress takes action by September 30.

 

Extending Tax Cuts

Tax deductions and credits have expiration dates. Unless Congress extends them, they expire. Action is necessary to keep them intact and the list of expiring tax cuts since 2018 is pretty long. .

 

Although COVID-19 related actions will continue to be front and center for the Congress, it cannot neglect its other duties. Let’s not forget that there is an election coming in November, which includes the entire House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and the Presidency.

 

The Congress, adapting to the ban of large group gatherings, will spend a significant amount of time campaigning for the November elections. In the end, the government still needs to be funded, and the need for a strong defense and services taxpayers expect from their government do not go away in a pandemic.

 

Despite the public dishearteningly partisan rhetoric, the Congress will quietly work together to get things done.

 

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