Congress Advances Key NEC Priorities in Final Week of 2019 Legislative Session
Retirement Savings, TRIA, & Ex-Im Bank, Biodiesel Credits Included in Spending Deal; House Approves USMCA
The final week of the 2019 Congressional session was a busy one, with Congress advancing several of The New England Council’s top legislative priorities over the past year.
President Trump will today sign a $1.4 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through September 30, 2020. The package came as the result of extensive bipartisan negotiations in recent weeks. In addition to funding the federal government, the final package also included a number of other legislative proposals that the Council has advocated for in 2019. Specifically:
Export-Import Bank Charter – Included in the spending bill was a provision to renew the charter of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank for seven years. The Ex-Im Bank is the nation’s official export credit agency, providing critical financing to exporters of all types and sizes across the country. The Council has long supported the Ex-Im Bank given the important role it plays in helping our region’s exporters access foreign markets and create new jobs. Earlier this year, the Council urged the region’s Congressional delegation to support legislation to renew the bank’s charter.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Act – Set to expire at the end of 2020, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) provides a critical federal stopgap for insurers in the event of a major terrorist attack. The Council wrote to members of the region’s House and Senate delegations in recent months urging them to support re-authorization of TRIA. A seven-year re-authorization was included in spending bill.
SECURE Act – Earlier this year, the Council endorsed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, introduced by House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal, which would create new opportunities for Americans to expand their retirement savings options. After passing the House in May, the legislation was incorporated into the spending bill.
Biodiesel Tax Credits – Earlier this year the Council sent a letter of support urging the reinstatement of expired biodiesel energy tax credits. The tax credits, which provide a significant boost to an industry focused on diversifying our region’s energy portfolio and improving the environment, expired in 2017. The spending bill retroactively applies the tax credits to 2018 and also extends them through 2022.
Also this week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to implement the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a multilateral trade deal that would make significant updates to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After months of negotiations led by House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal, Congressional leaders and the Trump Administration reached an agreement on a deal last week. The USMCA includes a number of important provisions to modernize the United States’ trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, including measures to address cross-border date flow, data localization, and the protection of intellectual property. The Council has advocated for approval of the USMCA for many months, and will continue to support final approval in the Senate in 2020.
The Council is grateful to the many members who have been engaged with our advocacy efforts on these and many other policy issues over the course of the year. We are also very grateful to our region’s Congressional delegation for their support and leadership on these issues, and in particular, to our region’s representatives on the Appropriations Committee whose input proved invaluable to securing a deal.
We hope you all enjoy the holidays and we look forward to seeing and working with you in 2020!