By Max Wengroff / NGA Manager, Government Relations and Membership
This has been a busy year for NGA’s Government Relations team in Washington. We faced a torrent of new regulations from the Biden administration and, despite Congressional chaos, we managed to put some points on the board.
We have faced both success and headwinds on multiple legislative and regulatory fronts. Let’s start with the numbers.
Over the course of this year, NGA’s GR team completed the following:
- 138 meetings with House of Representatives offices
- 82 meetings with federal agencies
- 70 meetings with Senate offices
- 18 NGA letters to Capitol Hill
- Six sets of comments to federal agencies
However, none of this work could have been done without the grassroots support of our members. NGA members were busy:
- Sending 2,119 emails and phone calls to Congress from 19 action alerts
- Participating in 216 meetings with lawmakers or their staff
- Hosting 23 store tours with lawmakers and federal agency officials
None of our work and victories would be possible without the generous contributions of NGA members. NGA members donated (as of the writing of this blog):
Moving to the nitty gritty, NGA’s GR Team continues to push the envelope in many policy areas with the following work.
- Revitalized federal enforcement of RPA for the first time in a generation.
- Garnered bipartisan congressional pressure on FTC to finish the 6(b) study and enforce RPA.
- Secured a bipartisan letter authored by Reps. Thomas Tiffany (R-WI) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) supporting RPA enforcement funding.
- Advanced the NGA-drafted and backed Main Street Competes Act through the Small Business Committee by a unanimous vote of 22-0, giving the Small Business Administration power to address anticompetitive conduct.
- Increased public awareness of the problem through major news stories like a Time Magazine exposé into Walmart’s tactics.
- Built support among state attorneys general
- The Credit Card Competition was reintroduced in both the House and Senate this summer and NGA, along with our coalition partners, have been leading the charge against the disinformation about the bill spread by the banks, credit card companies and their allies. Twice this year, the bill has been close to coming up for a vote and NGA mobilized our members, who sent over 730 messages to Congress. We’re expecting the bill to come up for a vote early next year.
- For the first time since the passage of the Durbin Amendment in 2010, the Federal Reserve is planning to lower the debit swipe fee cap by 36% at NGA’s urging.
- Claims forms are in the mail in the class action suit against Visa and Mastercard for most retailers who will get real relief, as NGA continues to litigate an op-out case.
Food and Health
- Secured an extension of the prohibition on EBT processing fees in the Farm Bill extension that will last until Sept. 30, 2024.
- Convened a Healthy Benefits Card stakeholders meeting, created a Healthy Benefits Card toolkit and wrote an open letter to stakeholders.
- Stopped the inclusion of an amendment to the debt limit package that would have introduced restrictions on SNAP purchases.
- Sent letters to Congress detailing NGA’s Farm Bill priorities, calling for DIR fee reform, and asking that Congress require the FDA to engage in additional rulemaking before implementing their Food Traceability Rule.
- Issued comments to the USDA on WIC Food Package and Online WIC along with comments to the FDA on online nutrition labeling and traceability.
- Worked with coalition members to craft new DIR Fee legislation introduced in the Senate.
Labor and Employment
- In conjunction with our coalition partners, we stopped the confirmation of controversial Julie Su as Secretary of Labor.
- To limit the impacts of the OSHA walkaround rule, NLRB Cemex decision, overtime rule changes, a return to the “ambush” election rule, and the NLRB Joint-Employer Standard, NGA filed comments with the relevant agencies and participated in public hearings, lobbied Congress to roll back potentially harmful rules, and joined alliances with other organizations such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity.
- In conjunction with our coalition partners, NGA issued comments urging delay on the EPA’s hydrofluorocarbon phasedown and leak detection rules.