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Deficit Reduction, Job Creation Top Congressional To-Do List

Sep 07, 2011

After a month-long recess, Congress returned this week to face a variety of fiscal and economic measures, with its main focus on the economy. Although contention and conflict all but eliminated professional civility in Congress during the past several months, lawmakers have at least one common goal this fall: creating jobs for millions of Americans who are out of work. Agreement on solutions and their funding, however, could prove difficult.

Starting things off, President Obama plans to address a joint session of Congress tomorrow night to outline his strategy for job creation. IDFA supports recent efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to urge the administration and Congress to take immediate action to create jobs without increasing the budget or expanding the deficit.

A 12-member debt-reduction supercommittee created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will convene tomorrow, working toward a deadline of November 23 to recommend cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the nation's budget. The bill includes a provision that allows for fast-track floor procedures so that the recommendations can be voted upon by both chambers before December 23, 2011.

All congressional committees, including agriculture, are being asked to submit recommendations to the supercommittee by October 14 for cuts in programs under their jurisdictions. Agriculture programs are expected to take a hit, but it is unclear at this time if dairy programs will be included.  

"It’s shaping up as a very interesting and active fall,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. “Although it’s unlikely that a debt reduction bill will include dairy legislation that increases both taxes and spending, as does Rep. Collin Peterson's proposal, we’ll be watching this process very closely.      

Free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea may gain renewed attention and possibly even approval this fall, if recent reports hold true. According to an Associated Press article, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said before the recess that they had found a way to renew the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides financial aid and training to displaced workers, and pass the trade pacts. How they will do this, however, remains to be seen.

With the end of the fiscal year, September 30, only a few weeks away, Congress will be looking to make progress on 12 appropriations bills that are necessary to keep federal agencies in operation for the coming year. But it’s already a safe bet that the bills will not be concluded on time and that a short-term continuing resolution will be used once again to keep the government running.    

For more information, contact Slominski at jslominski@idfa.org.

 
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