Congress returns, but how much will get done?

Congress returns, but how much will get done?

As we look to the Congressional agenda for 2016 we can expect election year politics to dominate much of the session. Already the House Republicans have sent President Obama legislation to repeal “Obamacare” and a disapproval resolution on the Waters of the U.S., knowing both will be vetoed but will use it in the fall elections.

We can expect both parties to raise various issues knowing they will not pass or be vetoed but are only being used to rally their base voters for the presidential and Congressional elections in November. Because it is an election year, Congress will not be in session much of the year especially starting mid-July when both national conventions are held. The Republican convention is July 18-21 in Cleveland and the Democratic convention is July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

There are a number of important issues for agriculture this session, including passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. This is a top priority for the administration. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said it will have to wait until after the November elections or maybe a new administration. Major efforts will be under way to find a compromise on genetically modified organism labeling with Vermont’s labeling law going into effect later this year.

The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee need to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (school lunch, school breakfast, summer feeding, etc.) which expired last year. The Senate Agriculture Committee plans to markup their bill this week.

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