Congressional Forecast for the Remainder of 2024

the United States Capitol building

It has been a busy and productive year for the FRA advocacy team as we have progressed in advancing several of our federal public policy priorities. Our Jobs in the Woods Act language made it into the House version of the Farm Bill, reauthorizing legislation. FRA-supported guestworker visa language, which compels the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release the maximum number of guestworker visas annually, was included in House Fiscal Year 2025 DHS appropriations legislation. Our biomass carbon neutrality directive was once again reauthorized after making it into the FY 2024 Interior Appropriations bill that was enacted earlier this year.

Presidential election years typically result in a shortened Congressional calendar to allow Members of Congress ample time to campaign, and 2024 is no exception. The House is in recess this week. The Senate was in session for a few days but left town before the Juneteenth federal holiday and will not return to Washington until July 8. The Republican National Convention is in mid-July, and both Houses will also be out that week. Moving into August, members of Congress will be taking their annual month-long August recess, which they will be back in their states and districts. They return to Washington after Labor Day and are here through September but then leave again for the entire month of October through the November election. The bottom line is there are not a lot of days left in the 118th Session of Congress for lawmakers to legislate. To borrow a line from the infamous Yogi Berra, “It’s getting late early.”

This shortened Congressional calendar means we are likely looking at a scenario yet again where meaningful action on our policy priorities is punted to the Lame Duck session of Congress following the election or into 2025.  Farm Bill negotiations are ongoing, but Senate Democrats and Republicans are far apart on their approach to reauthorizing the statute. The House bill made it out of committee on a bipartisan vote, but House Democrat leadership has been highly critical of the House Majority’s product. As the current Farm Bill expires at the end of September, an extension of some duration seems like a safe bet. Regarding appropriations, the fiscal year ends September 30, and a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past that date also seems likely.  

However, our federal advocacy efforts will proceed unabated, and we continue to meet with key staff in the House and Senate to discuss pathways for enactment of our policy deliverables. One benefit of members of Congress being back in their states and districts for prolonged periods is that it affords ample opportunities for facility or forestry tours. For the next few months, federal lawmakers up for reelection in November will seek photo opportunities with local job creators and their employees. Now is the time to make your voices heard by inviting your Representative or Senator to tour your operation and discussing what Congress can do—or not do—to help your business.

If you are interested in setting up a mill or forestry tour with a Member of Congress, the FRA staff is ready to assist you. Click Here to read the FRA Technical Release “Hosting a Visit from a Member of Congress.”

As always, FRA will regularly apprise you of developments and progress on federal issues important to the forestry and forest products value chain.