Independent Grocers’ Fall Legislative Preview: Webinar Key Takeaways

August 24, 2021

By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director of Communications and External Affairs

Congress will have a lot on their plate once they return from the August recess. From the debt limit and government funding to Democrats’ tax-and-spend agenda, Washington, D.C., will be busy after Labor Day.

NGA’s Government Relations recently hosted a webinar to discuss the lay of the land come September and what pitfalls and progress lie ahead — and while it may be over a year away, how the political and policy fights that are coming down the pike could impact the 2022 midterm elections.

Leading the discussion were Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel; Molly Pfaffenroth, senior director of government relations; Robert Yeakel, director of government relations; and Terence Huie, manager of PAC and grassroots.

Topics included Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation agenda, tax increases and other proposals, federal debt limit increase or suspension, government funding and chances of shutdown, and the 2022 midterm elections and control of Congress.

The following are key takeaways from the discussion:

NGA’s fall priorities. On taxes, a fight is imminent on extending the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before it sunsets in 2025; meanwhile, the Democrats’ reconciliation bill could include more than $1.75 trillion in tax increases. ​On payments, a credit card reform bill could be introduced soon, with momentum from regulatory agencies, but GOP lawmakers are facing pushback from financial institutions. On pharmacies, drug pricing is part of the reconciliation package, but DIR reform could be excluded.

Reconciliation showdown. The Senate has passed the bipartisan infrastructure package, but the House says it won’t budge on it unless senators pass the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. Democrats will look to pass their reconciliation package as soon as end of September but could take months to get to consensus.

NGA’s antitrust campaign gets a boost. After a year including more than 100 meetings with members of Congress, testimony on Capitol Hill and multiple White House meetings, President Biden issued an executive order directing the FTC to enforce the Robinson-Patman​ Act, which would level the playing field between independent community grocers and large chain and big-box retailers. Significant headway to be sure, but the campaign continues into the fall and beyond.

Debt limit suspension expired on July 31. The issue will need to be addressed this fall; Treasury has announced it will exercise “extraordinary measures” to conserve cash and pay obligations until Congress acts​. GOP leaders say Democrats are on their own to raise the debt limit.

Grocery-like margins. The current Congress has the narrowest majority since 2001​, with Democrats barely in control of the House and Senate.

Click here to view a recording of this webinar.