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Congressional Outlook for 2015

Congressional Outlook for Remainder of 2015

(September 10, 2015) After a relatively light summer workload and the annual August recess, Congress returns in September to what is shaping up to be a very busy last few months of 2015. Due to the number of issues that Congress must act on, and with the pending 2016 Presidential elections right around the corner, the end of 2015 is expected to be where the majority of legislative work will occur.

Courtesy of NGA here are a few expected action items related to the food industry:

  • Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) – The Senate still needs to act on the World Trade’s Organization’s (WTO) latest decision of COOL. The 60 day timeline the WTO had given was scheduled to run out in August, but due to two arbitration hearings scheduled later this month, the Senate still has time to act to avoid the tariff request placed by Canada and Mexico. As you may recall, the House had already passed a bill repealing COOL for beef, poultry, and pork.
  • Appropriations deadline – The end of the Federal fiscal year draws to a close on September 30, which means Congress must pass legislation to continue funding the government. By all accounts, they will most likely pass another continuing resolution to fund the government through next September as it remains unlikely agreement will be reached on a full appropriations measure.
    • Child Nutrition Reauthorization – Similarly, the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 is set to expire on September 30 as well which necessitates that child nutrition reauthorization (CNR) be addressed. Since the House only has twelve scheduled session dates this month, again most likely a short term extension of the CNR, which includes authorization for the WIC program, will be passed.
  • Tax Extenders – The one-year extension of nearly 60 tax extenders Congress reinstated for 2015, will expire at the end of 2015. We are optimistic Congress will take action on a package once again, but most likely not until December. Some of the tax extenders include:
    • Bonus depreciation
    • Section 179 expensing
    • Deductions for charitable food donations
    • New markets tax credit
    • Work opportunity tax credit

Cybersecurity – the issue of cybersecurity and data breaches continues to be top of mind for Congress. Legislation in the Senate that would allow for corporations to more easily share information about attacks with each other seems to be on track for a floor vote sometime this fall, but overall comprehensive cybersecurity legislation seems unlikely to get done.