• eScrap Beat

Report from Washington

The activities of the Trump Administration are plodding along on many fronts including hiring the necessary political operatives to run the government’s departments and agencies, and execute the President’s agenda.

In the meantime, many agencies have acting deputies who are career employees and do not have the necessary authority or trust to initiate rulemakings or other agency functions. This has made things slow going in the first 100 days and will continue into the next 100 days and longer.

Some agencies however have acted on some of the campaign promises such as investigating imports of goods such as steel and aluminum. Other agencies such as EPA have submitted drastically reduced budgets raising alarms on Capitol Hill. However, the basic functions of government are still operating.

Some of the big issues are obviously healthcare, comprehensive tax reform, and infrastructure spending. With the way the Republicans have outlined their agenda, all these issues are closely intertwined and dependent upon one another. Therefore, if the healthcare reform package does not pass, it will hold up tax reform which will then hold up infrastructure spending. And all this holds up the large budgeting and spending process.

This slow going from budgeting to tax reform has also produced a lot of uncertainty about the future of many programs that are important to special interests such as the recycling industry. For example, EPA eliminated the recycling programs from its budget while the Department of Energy eliminated its energy savings programs (REMADE). As with every budget sent to Congress since the budget act in the 1970s, it is essentially “dead on arrival.”  Accordingly, Congress already indicated it will restore much of this funding but the budget and appropriations process is a long and complicated one. Over the past decade, the federal government has been funded by what is called a “Continuing Resolution” which largely keeps the funding levels the same as the previous year.

In the end, we will see if the prevailing winds of change are stymied or whether the president and Congress can muscle something through before the all-important end of the fiscal year. 

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