getting your issues heard
with the new administration
by Ari Storch, IAPD’s Washington Office

e were all hoping that when the calendar changed from December 31, 2020 to January 1, 2021, we would be able to leave the worst of last year behind us. Unfortunately, 2021 appears to be more of the same, at least in Washington, D.C.

With the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the same party controls Congress and the White House. However, there is a 50-50 split in the Senate, which has not happened since 2001. Legislating in the COVID era has been challenging, but with control of both legislative bodies we anticipate President Biden will take aggressive action over the next two years. The next election will be the midterms in 2022; historically, the President’s party does poorly in midterm elections.

The Biden-Harris team announced a list of their legislative and regulatory priorities prior to taking office. Some of these priorities can mean tremendous opportunities for IAPD members while others, to be frank, cause your IAPD Government Relations team great consternation. Over the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris Administration we expect to see either legislative or executive action on a broad array of items, including:

  • A Presidential action requiring employers to meet certain COVID standards
  • Environmental regulatory action along with legislation mandating greater producer responsibility
  • A legislative effort to raise corporate tax rates
  • Trade negotiations with the United Kingdom on a post-Brexit deal
  • A massive COVID spending package that could include more aid for small businesses
Protecting your business
Your IAPD teams at the Kansas headquarters and in Washington, D.C., are determined to protect your businesses from unnecessary and overburdensome regulation and legislation. This is more important than ever in light of the constant assault on plastics from ill-informed policymakers who choose to lump performance plastics with the challenges consumer grade plastics face.

The IAPD team in Washington anticipated these issues and worked with the Biden-Harris Transition Teams from the White House, EPA and other regulatory agencies who are poised to take actions against plastics. Among their objectives are to ensure that the incoming teams understand the difference between consumer-grade/disposable plastics and quality, industrial-grade performance plastics. Fortunately, over the past several years we have developed several allies in Congress who value the performance plastics industry — on BOTH sides of the aisle. Prior to the age of COVID, we were able to meet Members of Congress in person at fly-ins and several IAPD members hosted their legislators at their facilities. In 2020, we were able to switch to “virtual fly-ins,” which allowed us to host numerous Members of Congress on Zoom calls. The IAPD Plastics PAC has also been instrumental in our progress on The Hill.

Your IAPD government relations team is working hard to protect your businesses.

Growing your business
Simultaneously, we are working to ensure you have opportunities to grow your businesses. One place we find ourselves in complete alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration is the need to invest heavily in our nation’s infrastructure. As part of that effort, we are working hard to incorporate open competition provisions in any infrastructure package. These provisions would mandate that any infrastructure receiving federal funding allows ALL materials to bid on the project. In some jurisdictions, performance plastics vendors are prohibited from bidding on projects, even if there is an appropriate material for the job. At the same time, the Administration will be examining how to help improve our nation’s supply chain problems that became all too apparent during the COVID crisis. This is another issue in which we will seek to put our stamp on future legislation.
Possible changes
It may be difficult for Congress to move major pieces of legislation unless the Democrats take some drastic actions. First on their plate is the use of a procedure in the Senate known as “budget reconciliation.” After a budget is passed by Congress, the Senate can use budget reconciliation to pass legislation that impacts the budget with a simple majority of 51 votes. This bypasses the legislative filibuster that requires that any piece of legislation passed through the normal process requires 60 votes to end debate. We expect the Democrat-controlled Senate to use this process to pass a COVID relief bill, possibly linked to an infrastructure bill.

In addition, there has been talk amongst Democrats to eliminate the last vestiges of the filibuster. This Senate rule forces bipartisan compromise by requiring a supermajority of members to vote to move legislation forward. If, by a simple majority vote of 50 plus the Vice President, the Democrats choose to eliminate the legislative filibuster, then they would no longer need the 60 votes required to pass legislation. If this happens, we could face anti-plastics legislation.

In order to keep our momentum, and until the possibility of resuming in-person meetings, your IAPD team will continue hosting Members of Congress at virtual fly-ins. Behind the scenes we are working hard to communicate with Members of Congress and their staffs the value you deliver and the challenges you face in order to be successful. We hope that you will join us on the virtual fly-in calls to tell your personal stories that we know will resonate. With your help, we can continue to fight to keep the performance plastics industry above the anti-plastics fray in the politics of D.C.