Issue Update 12/21/18

Government Funding / Guestworker Reform

While it appeared as late as yesterday that Congress and the President were in alignment on passing a short-term government funding measure—known as a Continuing Resolution or CR—and leaving town for the year, that scenario is now questionable. The Administration pivoted back to its insistence that funds exceeding $5 billion be included in the CR for building a wall along our nation’s southern border.  That proposal lacks sufficient support to pass the Senate, where 60 votes are needed. To reach that number a handful of Senate Democrats would have to side with a unified Republican majority (not a given), which at this point is highly unlikely. A partial federal government shutdown will commence after today.

The situation is fluid. What we do know is that our guestworker reform provisions that had been in play earlier this month will not ride on any final government funding deal that may be negotiated in the coming hours or days. FRA will be taking up this critical issue again in January when the 116th Congress convenes.   

Farm Bill

Yesterday, the President signed the Agriculture Improvement Act (H.R. 2). As we have noted in previous Issue Updates, the measure includes very positive provisions promoting wood in tall buildings and biomass energy provisions that will create demand for low grade timber and sawmill residuals. The legislation also includes some modest federal forestry provisions. FRA is pleased to see this important bill enacted into law and looks forward to working with our forestry and forest product association allies in assisting with its implementation.  

Internal Building Codes / Tall Wood Buildings

On Wednesday, we learned that all fourteen of the wood products industry-supported changes that will allow for tall mass timber construction up to 18 stories were approved for inclusion in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC). These changes are the gateway for products like cross laminated timber (CLT) to be used in taller commercial construction across the nation. This is excellent news and certain to provide new and sustainable long-term markets for both softwood and hardwood forest products.  For more information CLICK HERE.