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Roller Coaster Year Ahead on Capitol Hill

If the Speaker’s selection process in the U.S. House of Representatives is indicative of the year to come on Capitol Hill, we are in for quite the roller coaster ride. After four days and 15 rounds of voting, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) eked out the victory to become House Speaker but not before some major concessions were awarded to various Republican factions to seal the deal, as they say.

What does this mean for NACD’s member companies? It means that what has been an incredibly tight and challenging process to move things legislatively on Capitol Hill became just that much more difficult. But there is hope! So let’s dive into our wish list for 2023:

  • Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Reauthorization – Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that we were talking about President Trump signing a 3-year extension into law? Well, the clock has quickly ticked away, and we are now looking at a July 27 program expiration date. The good news is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Speaker McCarthy were all in the Congressional leadership the last go-around, passing the hard-fought multi-year extension of this important security program. We are hopeful to see a clean (meaning no impertinent environmental riders) bipartisan, long-term extension measure introduced very soon that our Washington Fly-In attendees can advocate for when on the Hill, May 10-11. We will work hard to ensure this extension happens quickly to avoid the last-minute theatrics of years past.
  • General System of Preferences (GSP) – I continue to marvel at how important and non-controversial programs like GSP get mired within the political rhetoric. GSP is a program established by the Trade Act of 1974 that aims to reduce prices for American importers and promote economic development in developing nations. Under the program, the Office of the United States Trade Representative provides non-reciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment on certain imported components, parts, or materials from developing nations. GSP lapsed at the end of 2020 and has yet to see Congress reinstate them since January 1, 2021. The fact that the program has not been reinstated is absolutely shameful. Both sides of the aisle should reauthorize GSP immediately and retroactively to January 1, 2021. According to the Coalition for GSP, American companies have paid nearly $2.6 billion in tariffs through last fall due to the program’s lapse. It is a huge mistake to keep this program dormant in the midst of an unstable economy where small businesses need every opportunity to help keep the lights on! We will be working aggressively to have legislation introduced that would fully and retroactively reinstate GSP, as well as the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill program, immediately.
  • Superfund Taxes – One of the most frustrating aspects of any trade association is dealing with the fallout of legislative provisions enacted into law that make zero sense and are used to simply generate revenue for other federal programs. On November 15, 2021, Congress resurrected the tax on 42 taxable chemicals through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). In addition to resurrecting the tax, the IIJA doubled the tax rates per ton on taxable chemicals, which range from $0.48 per ton to $9.74 per ton; lowered the taxable substance threshold from 50 percent (by weight or value) to 20 percent (by weight or value); and increased the default tax rate from 5 percent to 10percent for taxable substances. And where is this money likely to be spent? Certainly not programs that benefit our industry. Can you say Environment Justice? This money could be better used helping to stimulate the economy with investments in facility expansion and employee growth.
  • Rail Reform – We stayed busy at the end of 2022 advocating for paid sick leave for rail labor workers to ensure a rail strike was averted. While a strike was ultimately avoided, the sick leave rail workers deserved was not received. It was clear to many in Congress and across various industries during the rail strike drama on Capitol Hill that rail reform once again needs to be a priority of this Congress. The fact is that delays, congestion, and escalating costs are out of control within the rail community. Compound this fact with an unstable supply chain and spiraling inflation, it’s easy to see that the time is now to establish common-sense reforms to ensure shippers and end-use customers receive the products they pay for in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The association has also updated its priorities white paper for the 118th Congress that will be the guide by which we base our legislative efforts in 2023.

And mark your calendars as we are back at it for our annual Washington Fly-In this May 10-11, 2023.

While the ongoing theatrics of Capitol Hill continue to present a roller coaster ride legislatively, that will not slow this association as we look to push through several critical issues in 2023 and beyond!

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