On Wednesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget released its Fall Unified Regulatory Agenda, admittedly several months late. The agenda may be found here in this announcement.
The Unified Agenda is a compendium of all of the rules and regulations across federal departments and agencies–from those that are in the nascent stages all the way through to those that are near adoption. ABMA staff is in the process of reviewing regulatory actions in the many departments that we follow. One action that has been of particular interest is the Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard. That proposal remains in the “proposed rule” stage, and we continue to monitor developments closely.
The 118th Congress is off to a slow start. As of this writing, the House of Representatives just concluded a seventh unsuccessful vote to elect a House Speaker. Members of Congress cannot be sworn in until a Speaker is elected. The bottom line is that there is no modern day precedent for what we are seeing and no clear path forward yet for Rep. Kevin McCarthy to secure the requisite number of votes to claim the Speaker’s gavel. Roughly 20 Members of Congress, mainly from the House Freedom Caucus, have largely held firm in their opposition to McCarthy’s nomination. McCarthy has offered a number of concessions to peel off votes from this bloc, but thus far those concessions have not yielded progress. In every vote thus far, Democrat candidate for Speaker Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8) has secured the most votes (212), but short of the majority of votes necessary to become Speaker.
A number of scenarios have been floated to break the impasse, including McCarthy ultimately bowing out of the race and allowing the second ranking Republican Member in the House Steve Scalise (R-LA) to run. But Freedom Caucus Members have downplayed that option as Scalise is viewed by that group as similar to McCarthy. Another option is for a more moderate Republican, like retiring Republican House Member Fred Upton (R-MI), to run who could attract Democrat support, but that option appears unlikely as well. So for now, the rounds of Speaker votes roll on, potentially into the weekend.
In other news, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced Thursday that she will not run for another term after her current term expires in 2024. Senator Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which holds the pen on writing the next Farm Bill which expires this year. As we have noted previously, there are a number of provisions important to the wood building material sector that reside in the Farm Bill and will be an area of our advocacy focus this year. Already, the announcement has sparked interest from potential successors. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D) is expected to run as is Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-7) and potentially Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. In any event, Senator Stabenow will remain the Senate Agriculture Committee’s chair through the Farm Bill reauthorization effort this year and ABMA will be working closely with her and her team on provisions important to the LBM sector.