Farm Bureau ramping up for 2017 federal priorities

Earlier this month, the 114th Congress wrapped up its session following a historic presidential election and began making preparations for what is expected to be a very busy legislative calendar in early 2017.

During the recent lame duck session, Congress passed a continuing budget resolution, also known as a stop-gap measure, funding the federal government through the end of April and avoiding a government shutdown.

Additionally, waterways infrastructure received a boost through the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The WIIN Act authorizes investment in America’s ports, channels, locks, dams and other infrastructure that supports the maritime and waterways transportation system and provides flood protection for communities.

Most importantly, the WIIN Act returns to the two-year cycle of considering WRDA legislation, ensuring proper congressional oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers and reasserting Congress’ role in addressing water infrastructure needs.

With control of the House and Senate, as well as the presidency, optimism is strong among Republican leadership and rank-and-file members in Congress who are busy developing plans for next year.

Moving forward in 2017, the House is expected to quickly focus on the issue of regulatory reform, including opportunities to address the EPA’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule. Other priorities will likely include tax and healthcare reform.

AFBF’s board set regulatory reform as a strategic priority in January 2016 at its annual meeting in Orlando. More recently, AFBF drafted and distributed a “white paper” or policy statement on regulatory reform which has been endorsed by 53 agricultural organizations.

The white paper was also shared with the transition team for the Trump administration, as well as with congressional offices. The overarching premise of the effort is that all Americans have a vested interest in a regulatory process that is open, transparent, grounded on facts and respectful of our system of federalism that faithfully reflects and implements the will of Congress and adheres to the separation of powers in the Constitution.

It appears that the House will schedule legislation on regulatory reform for debate and a vote in the first week or two of January. INFB members are encouraged to stay tuned to the ongoing discussion about regulatory reform and look for communications from INFB on how to engage on these priority issues in 2017.